Like many alumni, Joe Collie first came to Virginia Tech in his late teens. But for Collie, then an 18-year-old native of Danville, Va., it was not the university’s academic offerings that brought him here — it was an assignment by the Army Specialized Training Program during World War II.
That assignment was cut short when Collie was sent to Cornell as a first alternate appointee to the U.S. Military Academy before he was assigned to the 100th Infantry Division as a rifleman. His next stop was southern France in 1944.
Collie fought through France and Germany until the end of the war in Europe. He stayed on as part of the ensuing occupation until early 1946, when he returned home hoping to resume his education.
“I had been impressed with Virginia Tech, its academic strength and friendly atmosphere, and the interest shown in making the necessary changes to accommodate an influx of 2,500 veterans to the existing 2,500 [students already] in the corps [of cadets],” Collie said. “And I wanted to take chemical engineering.”