University of Cincinnati
Cadets in the National Society of Pershing Rifles participate in a University tradition… firing the cannon at home football games.

Go Bearcats!

Cadets in the National Society of Pershing Rifles participate in a University tradition… firing the cannon at home football games.

UC ROTC Battalion History

The University of Cincinnati traces its heritage back to January 22, 1819, when the General Assembly of Ohio created a new corporation called Cincinnati College. It was not until the beginning of the Spanish-American War that the United States Army began to enter into the university history. As the United Sates began to drift toward war with Spain, the Board of Directors in June 1897made written application to the Secretary of War for the detail and assignmentof an officer of The United States Army for service in the University as instructor in military science. The request was declined on the grounds that the full allotment of officers by law for such special service had already been made, and there were no vacancies.

The University’s leadership in April 1917 founded the Department of Military Science, following the entrance of the United States into the First World War,to support the war effort. The College of Engineering with the Colleges of Medicine and Liberal Arts contributing provided military instruction. At that time, the success of attending the vocational training in the universities and colleges caused the Committee on Education and Special Training of the War Department to request that universities and colleges of the country make a more extensive utilization of their resources. The result of this request was the organization known as the Students Army Training Corps, SATC. Under the plan devised for the SATC, students were to become by voluntary induction uniformed soldier in the United States Army subject to military discipline, and were to receive the pay of privates. The SATC was established at U.C. on October 1,1918. Due to the U.S. late entry into the war, the operation of the SATC was never sufficiently settled to make possible a fair comparison between the interest shown by the students in the academic work under the SATC and peacetime conditions.

On January 1, 1919, the war courses at the university were closed. With the demobilization of the SATC, the government established units of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) to provide a limited amount of military training in selected colleges and universities throughout the country. U.C. was designated one of these universities and the government authorized the establishment of five ROTC units, Engineering, Ordnance, Coast Artillery, Signal Corps and Infantry. Army officers were placed in charge. A Professor of Military Science and Tactics, Colonel Sidney H. Guthrie of the Coast Artillery Service, was detailed as commandant.

History does not record any significant activities concerning ROTC for the next twenty years other than the assistance provided by University ROTC units during the great flood on January 18, 1937 in Cincinnati.

With the outbreak of World War II, U.C. President Raymond Walters convinced the American Council of Education to approve a plan to extend ROTC basic unitsin American colleges and universities in the event the United States entered the war. A course in military medicine was approved at U.C. as an elective at the college of Medicine. After the U.S. entry into WWII, in order to arrange for Army training courses and to integrate the programs of the various colleges and schools of U.C., the Board Of Directors on January 5, 1943, appointed an Administrative Committee on War Training Programs. The Reserve Officers Training Corps, under the command of Colonel Sidney Guthrie, who had established the ROTC at the university after WWI, gave basic and advanced training courses. The varying enrollments of soldier-students reached a maximum of 2450 in the academic year 1943-44. Soldiers became the feature attraction ofthe annual Homecoming. A former U.C. student of the class of 1938, Colonel PaulW. Tibbets, was the pilot of the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. There are no definite figures of the number of university men who served during WWII. There had been, since 1919, a total of 6,201 U.C. men enrolled in ROTC who were trained as Army officers. Four U.C. men held the rank of General in World War II.

With the close of WWII, ROTC again lost the preeminent position it held, and even with the advent of the Korean War, never regained a strong position.

ROTC maintained its host status throughout the 1950’s and 60’s and graduatedat least 15 officers per year until the steady decline in 1968 and reaching alow point in 1975. As a result of the reduced number of officers being commissioned throughout the Cincinnati area, a consortium of Xavier, U.C., and Northern Kentucky University was formed by the Department of the Army to better utilize the number of active duty personnel assigned to these institutions.

Eventually, the shadow of Vietnam dissipated and in the summer of 1982 U.C.began commissioning enough officers to regain host status. On June 10 1986, thefirst commission under the new four-year program was commissioned. Today, the program again is growing and contributing significantly to the future officer corps of the United States Army.

Today, Army ROTC and UC has over 100 students taking ROTC and is recognizedby former UC President Steger as an important member of the UC community. He wrote, “It occupies an important place in the University’s curriculum offerings, options for professional training, and efforts to recruit outstanding students.”