South Dakota State University

Art by George Finley: "West Point of the Plains"

”West Point of the Plains”

From the time there was first a school on this land, so also have Ibeen. Under various names since 1884, I have provided the United StatesArmy with proud, courageous officers. My officer graduates have gone onto show exceptional qualities in leadership, professionalism and excellence;many have also made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of the UnitedStates.

Military studies were among the “charter” subjects offered at DakotaAgricultural College in the fall of 1884. I was officially designated theCadet Battalion, Dakota State College, in 1886.

The concept of the Reserve Officers’ Training Cops (ROTC) was instituted underthe National Defense Act in 1916. It was then that I was named the ArmyROTC Cadet Battalion.

My name again changed in 1917 Student’s Army Training Corps, and my graduatesserved in the battles of World War I.

I was recognized and rededicated in 1925 as the South Dakota State College ROTCRegiment. World War II exploded on the world scene and once again mygraduates answered the call to arms. During the later years of World WarII, the Army Specialized Training Program was in effect. I wasre-designated again as the Cadet Battalion in 1946.

Until 1969, my programs were mandatory for the men of SDSU. During thelast year of this era, 1968-69, I was 1,355 cadets strong.

The ROTC Vitalization Act of 1964 made it possible for me to provide financialassistance and scholarships to my cadets.

I was selected in 1972 to be on of ten ROTC programs in the nation to pilot atest program for women in ROTC. Four of these trailblazing young womenwere the first to be commissioned in the nation through ROTC in 1974. This was also the first year that commissioning of my graduates was held inconjunction with University commencement exercises at SDSU.

In early 1984, I was officially designated the West Point of the PlainsBattalion, Buffalo Brigade, US Army Fourth ROTC Region.

Throughout my proud history, my members have served the Nation well. Manyof them are well known for their deeds, and still more have made the ultimatesacrifice for their Country. The first of my alumni to give their livesdid so in Cuba in 1898, where two paid the ultimate price of freedom. Ilost another during the Mexican Border War, then twenty-six more during WorldWar I.

One hundred eleven of my members gave their lives in various parts of the worldduring and following Pearl Harbor.

In Korea I gave up eight in the fight against communism and was stripped of tenmore during the conflict in Vietnam. Yet another was taken as aPeace-keeper in Lebanon during 1980.

Many different Professors of military Science (PMS) have guided me during mylife. Notable figures in my past include names such as Bradley, VanFleet,DePuy, and Adams.

Captain Omar N. Bradley served SDSU as PMS and assistant football coach during1919 and 1920. He later held the largest command of combat forces inworld history, the 12th Army Group of World War II.

Major James A. VanFleet became PMS in February of 1921. He later becameGeneral VanFleet, Commander of all forces in Korea.

Lieutenant General Charles V. Wilson was a 1940 graduate of SDSU. MajorGeneral Alan Nord, Cadet Commander in 1952, was SDSU’s first RhodesScholar.

Colonel Dwight Adams, PMS from 1962-67 and 1968-73, was the first and only PMSin the nation to attain Professor Emeritus status.

General William DePuy, a 1941 graduate of my program, once commanded the 1stInfantry Division in Vietnam. More recently, just before his 1977retirement, General DePuy Commanded the US Army Training and DoctrineCommand. General DePuy was awarded an Honorary PhD at SDSU Graduationexercises on 7 May 1977. In December 1987, the ROTC Armory was officiallydedicated and renamed the DePuy Military Hall in honor of General DePuy. At this time he was also named the first inductee into the SDSU ROTC HALL ofFAME.

As the West Point of the Plains Battalion, I demanded much of myself and of mygraduates. My commissionees will serve as officers of the Active Army,the Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve. I demand that those whoare called to serve do so willingly and courageously—to rise to the call offreedom and to the defense of democracy. My heritage has shown that thosewho have been so called have done so with pride and distinction. Leadership excellence starts here at South Dakota State University! LEAD,FOLLOW, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY!!