Oklahoma State University
Corps of cadets participating in drill and ceremony through stationary and moving techniques in front of Armory/Gymnasium that once housed ROTC that had a maximum enrollment of over four thousand cadets. The building now houses the School of Architecture.

Cadet Formation

Corps of cadets participating in drill and ceremony through stationary and moving techniques in front of Armory/Gymnasium that once housed ROTC that had a maximum enrollment of over four thousand cadets. The building now houses the School of Architecture.

The OSU Cowboy Battalion is located in the city of Stillwater, in north central Oklahoma.  It is conveniently located an hours drive from both Tulsa and Oklahoma City.  It is on the Campus of Oklahoma State University, a comprehensive state run university with over twenty-thousand students.

Some of the activities the corps of cadets participates in are colorguards at athletic and civic events, cannon crew, push-up board at home football games and other student events.  Student organizations within the corps of cadets are the National Society of Pershing Rifles, Scabbard and Blade, and the Army Blades.  Select cadets also participate in the Brigade Ranger Challenge competition and take part in the Bataan Memorial Death March, held each year in New Mexico.  Opportunities also exist for cadets to take part in various staff rides/battlefield visits at historical sites of great importance.

Battalion History

The origins of Army ROTC at Oklahoma State University began with the establishment of the institution itself. Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) College was organized and officially opened during December 1890, and with it military instruction was a part of the curriculum offered by the college.  In 1893, military instruction became mandatory for all students enrolled in the college.  Thus begins a tradition of excellence and pride sustained by students and faculty for one-hundred and thirteen years.  During those years ROTC expanded and grew in strength, decreased in size, and swelled again.  Regardless of the fluctuations or the national sentiment, ROTC at Oklahoma A&M College, and later Oklahoma State University, remained a viable, highly respected and strongly supported element of the educational experience of the graduates of the institution.  By December 1987, over 6,000 officers had been produced by ROTC at Oklahoma State, and the traditions of excellence and pride still persist in the graduates as well as in the present members of the corps.

In its infancy, military instruction was directly controlled by officials of the college.  Professor W.W. Hutto was placed in charge of the department in 1893.  Through his efforts formal courses of military instruction, consisting of twenty-four hours of lecture were instituted, and for seventeen years this program was admirably maintained and improved by the faculty of the institution.  In 1908, the arrival of Lieutenant Ira T. Fravel of the 24th Infantry as the new commandant of the corps began a new chapter in the development of ROTC on the Stillwater, Oklahoma campus.  Lieutenant Fravel was the first full time active duty Army officer on the college's faculty, and the first of what has subsequently been called the Professor of Military Science.  Lieutenant Fravel organized one battalion of five companies.  Uniforms were issued for the first time, and Krag-Jorgenson rifles were acquired.  In addition, a military band was organized for the corps.  Aside from classroom work, Lieutenant Fravel instituted target shooting and close order drill.  In the spring of 1908, the first tactical exercise by the corps was conducted.

In 1910, Michael McDonald, a retired Army sergeant and a veteran of the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, and the Philippine Insurrection, joined the military department as an instructor.  “Captain Mack” became a fixture at Oklahoma A&M, serving as an instructor and later as the Military Property Custodian.  His colorful career of service to ROTC and Oklahoma A&M was a long and rewarding one, having continuous association with cadets and faculty until his death  in 1946 at the age of ninety-two.  An armory in the Civil Engineering building was acquired in 1910.  The military program had made excellent progress during its first nineteen years of existence, as had the university.

The year 1916 was probably the most important date in this or any other  university's association with ROTC.  Congressional passage of the National Defense Act in 1916 allowed the establishment of commissioning programs through military instruction at selected colleges and universities.  Oklahoma A&M was one of these institutions and in 1916, ROTC began in earnest on the Stillwater campus.  Thirty-six students were in the program by 1917.  Each cadet officer received 9.00 dollars per month for their service, while the other cadets received pay according to their rank.

All male students were required to enroll in ROTC if they were enrolled in the college.

1920 was a blue-ribbon year for ROTC at Oklahoma A&M.  ROTC moved into the armory-gymnasium that is now occupied by the school of architecture.  In March, 1974, ROTC was moved to a completely renovated building, Thatcher Hall.  For fifty-four years, however, the armory and the gym or “Old Gym” were synonymous with ROTC at Oklahoma A&M.  Thousands of students passed through the doors of the armory in those years.  Classes were taught, uniforms issued, personnel actions taken, and all matter of training were conducted within the walls of the armory-gymnasium.

The program itself changed as well in 1920.  The terms “Basic Course” and “Advanced Course” were first applied to the program in that year.  Students received 12.00 dollars per month for the duration of the course including one summer vacation.  In addition, the advanced course now included the attendance of advanced cadets at summer camps as directed by the Secretary of War.  Rail fare to and from the camp was paid by the government.  National affiliation with other ROTC units began in 1920, when Company K, 2nd Regiment, Scabbard and Blade was formed at Oklahoma A&M.

1920 also marked the commissioning of the first officers produced at Oklahoma A&M.   Three young men were commissioned in the officers' reserve as second lieutenants that year.  They were the first of a legacy of pride and excellence, and their precedence has led to thousands more that were to be produced over the next seven decades.

In 1924, Oklahoma A&M organized its competitive men's rifle team.  The Oklahoma A&M rifle team produced numerous all-American shooters, both male and female, and won both national and conference titles.  In the 1925-1926 school year 993 basic cadets were enrolled in the program with 114 advanced cadets participating.

Since 1920, ROTC at Oklahoma A&M had been infantry associated.  In 1936 the program was expanded to include an engineer advanced course.  That same year 1,500 men were enrolled in the ROTC program.  That number was the largest enrollment of any infantry ROTC in the Southwest.

In 1939, the first alumnus of Oklahoma A&M, Major Harry B. Hildebrand returned to serve as interim Professor of Military Science and Tactics.

In 1942, college officials adopted a curricula which would lead to a bachelor's degree in Military Science and Tactics and increased the number of hours of military science instruction.  The Signal Corps advanced course was instituted in 1942, and one-hundred and fifty cadets enrolled in the Signal Corps program the first year.

ROTC was in the process of coping with the demand of the nation at war in 1942 and 1943 when changes began rapidly occurring.  On April 6, 1943, all advanced course students were ordered to active duty upon completion of the semester in session.  The second year advanced course students were not granted commissions upon completion of their ROTC training, but were ordered to attend officer candidate schools in lieu of summer camp.  In accordance with the directives, on May 1943, Oklahoma A&M cadets reported to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to be subsequently assigned to appropriate officer candidate schools.

In 1948, the U.S. Air Force was added to the advanced ROTC course curricula as well as an Ordnance advanced course.  In 1950 the Air Force program was separated from the Army program by the establishment of the post of Professor of Air (Aerospace) Science at Oklahoma A&M.

In 1951-52 the ROTC program had an enrollment of 3,816 Army and Air Force ROTC students.  The following year, expansion was expected to swell the ranks to 4,200 cadets, but actual enrollment proved to be more than estimated, as 4,707 students were enrolled on the Oklahoma A&M campus and its satellite units; by for the largest enrollment in the history of Oklahoma A&M ROTC.

The Oklahoma A&M program was modified to a general military science curriculum in 1955.  All branch associations were dropped and each student became eligible to become commissioned in any branch of the Army as the needs of the service dictated.

The year 1957 was the end of an era for Oklahoma A&M college.  In July of that year Oklahoma A&M officially changed its name to Oklahoma State University of Applied Arts and Sciences and elected to join the Big Seven , and later Big Eight athletic conferences.

In 1963 the PMS approved and supervised the establishment of a coed auxiliary to K-2, Scabbard and Blade, the Army Blades.  Out of a field of more than 600 applicants, members of K-2, the cadre and members of the academic faculty narrowed the field down to the first Army Blade unit of forty-four coeds.  Since that time, over 500 women have associated themselves with Army ROTC at OSU through the Army Blades.

During the late sixties, the peak years of the Vietnam conflict, when many universities were having anti-war problems, notably OSU was relatively quiet.  In 1965, OSU officials decided to change ROTC to a fully voluntary program.

1973 saw the beginnings of coed Army ROTC at OSU with the enrollment of three women cadets.  These were not the first women to enroll at OSU, however.  In reality, the first women enrolled were in 1891, at the origins of the university.  Due to a misinterpretation of the Morrill Act, officials of the institution required all students, including women, to enroll in the military instruction offered at Oklahoma A&M.  The women now enrolled, however, have the advantage over their predecessors since they can achieve commissions.

The United States Army ROTC Cadet Command was organized 15 April 1986 at Fort Monroe, Virginia to command and control our nation's ROTC programs.

All in all, the future at Oklahoma State for ROTC appears brighter than ever.  The traditions and pride of the past have not been lost.  In fact, new traditions of pride and standards of excellence are being established.

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