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Battalion History

For 100 years, Oklahoma State University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) has helped prepare young men and women for service in the military. Graduates of the program have served with distinction from World War I through 21st-century conflicts.


George Price Hays, commissioned a second lieutenant in 1917 after graduating from Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (OAMC), was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1919 for his actions in France. He commanded the 2nd Infantry Division’s artillery at Omaha Beach during the Normandy Invasion of World War II.


The Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 provided some funding, equipment, and instructors for colleges required to include curriculum in basic military skills for all able-bodied students. OAMC, founded in 1891, initiated a military department and created the Oklahoma Territorial Militia Regiment, a student organization combined with what would become a National Guard. Enrollment was compulsory for underclassmen with upperclassmen serving as the regiment’s officers. The first two decades of the twentieth century impacted military attitudes not just in Stillwater, but nationwide.


War in Europe in August 1914 brought about a reconsideration of American military policy and by 1916 the Preparedness Movement became part of the political vernacular. On June 3, 1916, the National Defense Act of 1916 was passed. Following passage of the Act, OAMC became one of seventeen charter Army ROTC programs nationwide.


Throughout the 20th century, enrollment in ROTC has fluctuated. Membership was compulsory until 1965 and the number was large enough in the mid 1960s for the formation of a cadet division that consisted of 6,000 cadets organized into two brigades each with three battalions. Following the Vietnam conflict, ROTC membership declined to a single battalion of approximately 500. The OSU program has commissioned 6,000 officers since 1916 with 60 earning the rank of general; two have received the Medal of Honor.


The 1920s also saw the construction of men’s and women’s dormitories with the men’s facility named in honor of Carter C. Hanner, a casualty of World War I, and the women’s facility in honor of Jessie Thatcher, the first woman graduate of OAMC. Both remained dormitories until 1968 when they became administration offices for various departments. Thatcher became the new home for ROTC in the early 1970s.

Thatcher Hall’s front lawn provides a small window into ROTC’s history. A replica of a Korean War-era RF-84F fighter-bomber brings attention to the Air Force’s addition to ROTC in 1946 of Detachment 670. One of 76 programs on college campuses nationwide, Detachment 670 was originally part of the Army Air Corps; the U.S. Army and Air Force did not become separate entities until 1949.


The lawn also includes a British Breech Loading 60-pounder Mack I, one of 60 made for the U.S. Army for testing. Also, a 4.7-inch Gun Model 1906, another testing cannon, adorns the lawn.


Today, Army ROTC has a total of 274 programs with an enrollment of more than 30,000. Over 70 percent of the second lieutenants who join the active Army, the Army National Guard, and the U.S. Army Reserve are ROTC graduates. More than 40 percent of current active duty Army General Officers were commissioned through the ROTC.

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