Western Courier

ROTC hosts 50TH Anniversary Military Ball

Marc Ramirez, Assistant News Editor

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With the new year came a new anniversary. 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of Western Illinois University’s Reserve officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). The ROTC addition was approved by Western’s Military Science program on Nov. 20 1967; however the first class didn’t run through until the fall quarter of 1968.

In celebration, the ROTC program hosted its 50th annual Military Ball on March 24 in the University Union Grand Ballroom. Not only was this time used to celebrate the accomplishments of cadets, but also a way for them to gain experience in training exercise protocols, logistics and planning. ROTC students assisted in outlining the agenda for the night.

The military ball is planned and executed by students and gives an opportunity to highlight their successes and pride in the program to their family and friends,” said Lieutenant Col. Helling. “Traditionally, alumni have returned to show their support for the students and share with them their stories and experiences.”

The enrollment in the initial freshman class consisted of 32 MS III junior cadets and 95 basic course cadets. In the 1969-70 school year the program had a shake quite early with students being discouraged to join with the Vietnam War being underway. As well, students protested because of the Kent State shootings, which resulted in a fourday takeover at Simpkins Hall in regards to the ROTC programs.

The Student Government Association sponsored a vote in regards to keeping the program or not, students then decided to keep the programs. This meant that Western was the only state university in Illinois that wasn’t forced to close down due to  student protests.

However, in the following year 1970-71, ROTC enrollment increased to 57 cadets, 46 were enrolled in the advanced course. The year following, the Basic Course enrollment reached 74 cadets. Since 1967 the Military Science program has prospered.

Since then, the program has earned its second consecutive General Douglas MacArthur Award in 1994, 2001 and 2002. The Military Science program is also ranked among the top 20 of 270 U.S. Army Cadet Command Programs nationwide.

The ROTC program has continued to grow more recently with being named second top Achiever for Resource and Cadet Management Excellence in 1995. In more recent years, the program has also won Best Large Battalion in 10th Brigade in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

ROTC at Western currently offers a two and a four-year program. The four-year program includes a Basic Course and an Advanced Course each spanning two years. However, Basic Course participants have no military obligation and can take the course as a college credit.

Students who have successfully completed the ROTC Leaders Training Course, a person with Veteran status, one with prior service, a person from the National Guard or one in the United States Army Reserve can directly get into the Advanced Course.

The last two years of the program are designed for students who have successfully completed the Basic Course, been through military training or have received advanced credit and are ready to prepare for a career as an officer in the United States Army.

To gain admittance into the last two years of the program, one must meet certain criteria. This includes being a sound moral character, a citizen under the age of 31, having no philosophical views that would make one an conscientious objector, having a cumulative GPA of a 2.0 or higher and having no medical conditions.

Western has commissioned over 1,068 cadets and seven alumni have been ranked General Officer as of December 2017.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
ROTC hosts 50TH Anniversary Military Ball