Tuskegee University

Tuskegee Army ROTC History Over The Years

The Junior Infantry Reserve Officer's Training Corps (ROTC) was established at Tuskegee Normal & Industrial Institute in February 1919. Captain Russell Smith, Infantry, was detailed to duty as Professor of Military Science and Tactics (PMS&T), with one commissioned officer and three enlisted assistants assigned. All male students over the age of fourteen who were in good physical condition were required to enroll in the unit.

This program was designed to motivate and give future leaders values and standards to live by each day. Military instruction was conducted between 4:00and 5:00 pm, three days a week. Lieutenent Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.(Brigadier General retired), reported for duty at Tuskegee in 1920 as thePMS&T, relieving Captain Russell Smith, who became the assistant PMS&T.There were no available replacements for Lieutenant Colonel Davis upon completion of his tour in 1924, therefore, the junior unit was discontinued.

The school, however, continued military training for qualified students under the provisions of paragraph 55-c of the National Defense Act using certain members of the previous PMS&T's staff as instructors who had served in the Army during World War I. In 1933, the Junior Infantry Unit (ROTC) was reestablished under the command of Colonel Benjamin O. Davis Sr., former PMS&T. During the school year of 1937-38, Captain Charles Ecton served asPMS&T and Captain Walter J. Love served as Assistant PMS&T. Captains Ecton and Love were subsequently employed at Tuskegee on the staff of the Deanof Men. During the school year 1939-40, the War Department detailed Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. (Lieutenant General retired) to Tuskegee asPMS&T. At the beginning of the school year 1941, the Senior Infantry Unit(ROTC) was established.

The United States Air Force found its roots in the United States Army as the Army Air Corps. The aviation training program had its beginnings under Lieutenant Colonel Herbert A. Barrow, Infantry, PMS&T, during the school year 1946-47. Fourteen advance course students made up this first class of aviation training cadets. These cadets trained with Army ROTC students in field work and general military subjects. The subjects that were purely aviation related were taught separately.

In September of 1954 the Army ROTC program at Tuskegee Institute was redesignated as a General Military Science (GMS) program. In September 1960,under the guidance of Major Burton W. Lewis, Professor of Military Science(PMS), the Army ROTC at Tuskegee Institute adopted the modified GMS program. In the new curriculum, certain academic courses offered by the college were substituted for military contact hours, formally required under the previous program of instruction. The ROTC curriculum was revised in the school year 1968-69.

The Army Flight program commenced in September 1968. The first class graduated four cadets. In 1973-74, ten students (one-third of the Military Science IVclass) enrolled in the flight instruction program, the largest class to pursue flight training since the inception of the program. The Army flight program was terminated at the end of the 1975-76 school year. Based on current trends and recommendations by the Professor of Military Science, all four years of ROTC became voluntary in the 1972-73 school year. Females were officially enrolled for the first time in September 1973. Tuskegee University (redesignated fromTuskegee Institute in 1985) is currently one of 270 colleges and universitiesin the United States that offer the Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps(SROTC) program for the development of commissioned officers to become members of the active or reserve component Army.