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SOONER BATTALION

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In April, 1917, the Oklahoma University student body president, Josh Lee, called a meeting of all male students for the purpose of determining the university's role in contributing to the national defense by forming a volunteer student infantry unit. The students were overwhelmingly in favor of the measure and a committee was formed to present the proposal to university president Stratton D. Brooks, who approved the formation of the Student Volunteer Regiment.

OU ROTC cadets training with artillery survey the terrain, circa 1920.

In April, 1917, the Oklahoma University student body president, Josh Lee, called a meeting of all male students for the purpose of determining the university's role in contributing to the national defense by forming a volunteer student infantry unit. The students were overwhelmingly in favor of the measure and a committee was formed to present the proposal to university president Stratton D. Brooks, who approved the formation of the Student Volunteer Regiment.

The First World War

This basic training unit, under the purview of Professor Guy Williams and Dean S.W. Reaves, consisted of twelve companies: nine infantry, one medical, one signal, and one engineer. Drill was conducted during the afternoons three times per week, and training was conducted for the entire school year. No equipment or uniforms were available, and the cadets drilled with wooden rifles carved by the two faculty advisors. The only distinctive insignia were arm bands used to designate officers and noncommissioned officers.

During the summer of 1917, the newly formed State Board of Regents for Education passed a resolution requiring all male students to participate in a year-long military training program. This was to remain a requirement of university students for nearly 50 years. Satisfactory completion of the basic course enabled students to enroll in the advanced program. Once a student elected to enroll in the advanced program, completion of the program became a prerequisite for graduation.

Heading the formally organized Student Volunteer Regiment were Captain C.D.Dudley, a retired Army officer, and Major R.C. Terrell, a professor of engineering. The organization of the Student Volunteer Regiment had by this time changed.  Support companies were eliminated and the battalion evolved into solely an infantry unit. In 1920, an artillery battalion was added, which gave the cadet regiment two infantry companies and two artillery batteries.  In the spring of 1926 the infantry unit was disbanded, leavingonly the artillery battalion. The university was then designated as a training school for the Army's field artillery branch, with all cadets receiving, upon graduation, a commission as a second lieutenant of field artillery in the Army Reserve. By 1935, ordnance, quartermaster, and engineering units were also added.

The Second World War

The Second World War brought great changes to the nation and to the university's ROTC program. All Regular Army personnel were reassigned and the regiment was staffed by Reserve Officers called to active duty for the duration of the conflict.

During the conflict, two Army ROTC alumni, Lieutenant Colonel Leon R. Vance, U.S. Army Air Corps, and Colonel John L. Smith, United States Marine Corps, were awarded our nation's highest military decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Thousands of others served with distinction, and 503 OU alumni made the ultimate sacrifice during the war.

Following the war, in 1955, the ARMY ROTC program underwent a major revision with the establishment of a general military science curriculum and the elimination of all specialized branch training, which prepared cadets to servein all branches of the Army.

The Vietnam War

Since the formal organization of OU ROTC in 1919, all male students were required to complete two years of military training by taking military science classes. This requirement swelled the ranks of ROTC until 1965, when the program became voluntary.

Growing opposition to US involvement in Vietnam further decreased enrollment. Despite this, cadre and cadets persevered and the program survived. During that period the attraction of serving one's country, gaining personal benefit through ROTC, and building lasting social relationships continued to attract magnificent young men and women into the program.

The activation of Cadet Command on May 2, 1986 established ROTC for the first time as a major command within the Army. The headquarters provided greater focus and unity to the Sooner Battalion's mission of commissioning the future warrior-leaders of the United States Army.

Today

The Army ROTC program at Oklahoma University has commissioned over 6,000 officers into the Active Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard since 1921.Those officers have served their country well, distinguishing themselves assoldiers and later as civilians, with seventeen rising to become general officers.

The University of Oklahoma Army ROTC program continues that proud traditiontoday, producing for our armed forces motivated and professional young officers who will lead America's sons and daughters to victory in our current war on terrorism.