Roy Simpson never forgot Col. Walter Hartung and the school he later served as president.

“I was a student here and was drafted in 1943,” Simpson recalled. “Walter Hartung had been at the school when I was here and he was now a major in the Army Air Forces. I was a private in the Air Forces and I wrote Col. Hartung to see if there was anything he could do to help me make a more significant contribution to the war effort. He invited me to the Air Transport Command cadet program.

“I did training at Yale University and later Santa Monica, Calif., became a second lieutenant and joined the Air Transport Command in the Pacific Theater. … I always felt an obligation to Col. Hartung since he got me into the program and helped to make me a commissioned officer. That got me to Yale and then Santa Monica.”

From New Haven, where he prepared for his command, to the Pacific and then to Santa Monica, where he settled after the war, Simpson never wavered in his admiration for the man he met while a student at the Academy of Aeronautics.

On Thursday (Nov. 17), he made his respect known with a $50,000 grant to Vaughn to fund a scholarship program in Hartung’s memory. The Walter Hartung Memorial Scholarship will be open to students in a bachelor of science program who are maintaining at least a B average and demonstrate financial need. Students will apply annually and awards can vary.

The scholarship announcement was made following a lecture by Continental Airlines pilot Emerson Allen, whose wife is a business associate of Simpson’s. As Simpson said of the College’s president from 1964 to 1984: “Hartung was one of us; and he was Vaughn.”

“Vaughn is thrilled to have reconnected with a longtime alumnus who still feels a great sense of attachment to this institution and its early founders,” President John C. Fitzpatrick said. “Mr. Simpson’s significant gift to this institution will have a direct and tangible impact on the students who are the recipients of the Walter Hartung Memorial Scholarship, and for that we’re grateful.”

Simpson recalled how Hartung strategically placed at least one Academy of Aeronautics graduate on every island in the Pacific Theater controlled by the Allies. The Academy of Aeronautics influence spread as Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur embarked on his island-hopping campaign to retake the Pacific from the Japanese. By the end of war, in August 1945, Simpson’s classmates were stationed from Hawaii to Okinawa.

Simpson settled into business life after the war, first in the textile industry and then at American Can Company. He and Hartung did not keep in touch—in fact, they didn’t speak at all after the war—but Simpson never forgot the debt he owed the colonel who made his wartime contribution a bit more meaningful.

“He got me into something I never would have gotten into otherwise,” Simpson said.


Roy Simpson, class of 1943, and President John C. Fitzpatrick formally establish the Walter Hartung Memorial Scholarship.