Assemblywoman Mitchell Honors late UCLA professor/WW II vet Armen Alchian

March 23, 2013

Los Angeles - Assemblymember Holly J. Mitchell (D-West Los Angeles) arranged for the posthumous memorialization of the service and contributions of Armen Alchian, Ph.D., a World War II veteran and former UCLA economics professor. A flag which had flown over the State Capitol in Sacramento was presented to Pauline Alchian in memory of her late husband during a ceremony held on the UCLA campus.

Alchian taught as a member of UCLA’s faculty for more than 40 years, during which his research and lectures significantly enhanced the reputation of the university as an academic fountainhead and brain trust in the field of economic theory.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Armin Alchian left his position as a young instructor at the University of Oregon to enlist in the Army Air Corps — the branch of the Army that would later become the US Air Force. In April 1943, as a second lieutenant, he was sent to California as an instructor for candidate aircraft navigators, stationed at Santa Ana. Posted next to Training Command in San Antonio, Texas, skillful use of his mathematics and statistics background to improve training analysis and methods led to Alchian’s promotion to captain. The war over, Captain Alchian returned to civilian life in 1946. In 1951, when the conflict in Korea was escalating, the Defense Department summoned Air Force Reserve Captain Alchian back to active duty. By then he had joined UCLA’s faculty, but was also working at RAND Corporation in Santa Monica on highly classified military research projects. That work being deemed more critical to national security than a second stint of service in uniform, he was exempted from active duty for the duration of the Korean conflict. In 1953 he resigned his commission and was honorably discharged. Henceforth he dedicated himself to his career at UCLA.

A ceremony in memory of Professor Alchian was held at the Faculty Club on UCLA’s campus on March 23rd, attended by dozens of his family, former colleagues and students. Presentation of the flag was a surprise gesture coordinated by the office of the Assemblywoman, who was represented at the event by her Westside deputy John Kernick, a former U.S. Marine and a UCLA graduate.  The flag was formally given to the widow by her son, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Allen, immediately following a tribute to Professor Alchian delivered by Kernick who, speaking on behalf of Assemblywoman Mitchell, observed:

“From Captain Professor Alchian we learn that it is possible to both serve and lead; to do one’s duty and do one’s best; to expand the body of theoretical knowledge and to apply that knowledge in ways that help real human beings; to be both patriot and pedagogue, soldier and scholar . There are so many tales of sacrifice and service that we may learn from and emulate. Today we honor one that this campus and this community, family and friends, Bruins and veterans alike, may take special pride in.”

CONTACT: Charles Stewart, (310) 482-1070