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Old post theater renamed for Medal of Honor recipient

The OCS auditorium now bears the namesake of a Medal of Honor recipient.

The 3rd Battalion (Officer Candidate School), 11th Infantry Regiment, dedicated Building 72 — an old theater on Main Post — as Nett Hall during a ceremony Friday in honor of retired Col. Robert B. Nett. Known as the “Father of the Officer Candidate School” for his work with the organization, he fought in three wars and served for 33 years before retiring in August 1973.

Nett earned the Medal of Honor in World War II as a lieutenant in command of a company attacking a reinforced Japanese enemy battalion near Leyte, Philippine Islands, that had held up an American advance for two days, according to his citation. Despite being severely wounded, he helped spearhead the assault, which led to the capture of a vital strongpoint in December 1944.

“Colonel Nett is a legacy to the OCS,” said Lt. Col. John Best, the battalion commander and school commandant. “Everything he represents is what we try to instill in the officer candidates. That’s the standard we try to uphold: nation before self, self-discipline and always taking care of the Soldiers.

“It’s why we produce the best officers in the world, and why we do it better than anyone else.”

Born June 13, 1922, Nett joined the Connecticut National Guard at 17, lying about his age to sign up. After his retirement from the Army, he remained in the Columbus area and worked as an educator until 1987. Nett died three years ago and is buried in the Main Post Cemetery.

His son, Robert, a retired military officer and practicing physician in San Antonio, attended Friday’s ceremony, which featured the unveiling of a Medal of Honor bronze plaque.

“He was always proud of his beloved Officer Candidate School,” Dr. Nett said. “‘Duty, honor, country’ guided him, and his belief in God. Dad always taught me, ‘The greatest experience in life was the privilege to serve’ and courage is just doing the right thing in every situation, in any circumstances, no questions asked. He lived it, he honored it and he always tried to teach that to others.”

OCS companies use Nett Hall as a discussion forum with senior leaders. Branching ceremonies, in which the officer candidates choose a career field, also take place in the auditorium.

“Colonel Nett is not just remembered for his heroism, but also his selfless dedication to the officer candidates,” Best said. “He shared stories of courage with them. Even today, his mentorship reverberates through the halls of our Officer Candidate School. This building has a defining and long-lasting impact on our future officers. That’s why it’s appropriate to name it after Colonel Nett.”

On the Army’s 235th birthday June 14, 2010, the Ground Soldier System was renamed Nett Warrior in honor of the colonel. Nett Warrior is an integrated dismounted leader situational awareness system for use during combat operations. It allows for faster and more accurate decisions in the tactical fight.