West Virginia State University

WVSU ROTC Battalion

The Morrill Act of 1862 provided for the establishment of Land-Grant Colleges. The Act also stated "Military Tactics" shall be taught. The second Morrill Act of 1890 provided that "colored youth may also be educated". When the West Virginia Legislature established West Virginia Colored Institute in 1891, military training was not specifically included, but this training was in operation in the first year of the schools existence. The college was only a few years old when the school's principal John H. Hill left to become an officer in the Spanish-American War. Six students also enlisted, and four were so well trained that they immediately were made noncommissioned officers.

At the request of the school's first official president J. McHenry Jones, the West Virginia legislature in 1899 passed the so-called "Cadet Bill" that enabled up to sixty young men to receive free tuition, board, uniforms, and books. The school took on a military atmosphere, and a bugle announced each new activity during the day. The program continued until approximately 1907, when it was discontinued until 1918.

In 1915, the name of the school was changed to West Virginia Collegiate Institute, and many of its graduates went on to an Officers Reserve Training Camp in Des Moines, Iowa, where they earned commissions. In 1918, the U. S. Army assigned 120 soldiers from the national Student Army Training Corps to study military and academic subjects at the Institute. The SATC program was canceled when the war ended. Forty-four West Virginia Collegiate Institute students and former students served our nation from 1916 to 1918, during the US involvement in World War I.

In 1919, War Department General Order Number 49 authorized WVCI to establish and maintain a Junior unit of ROTC. This program lasted two years.

Much of the credit for the establishment of the present ROTC program goes to Mr. Daniel P. Lincoln (deceased), a former Registrar, and Professor Emeritus Daniel L. Ferguson (deceased) for whom the ROTC building is named. Their success in conducting military training on a voluntary basis early in World War II, laid the ground work for War Department recognition of the college's desire to serve.

In 1940, the institution took part in the national Civilian Pilot Training Program to prepare men for military aviation. Both ground school courses and flying lessons were given at Wertz Field adjacent to the college. An Artillery Branch ROTC was established at the college in 1942, and at that time was the only one in the country approved by the War Department for a historically black college. During World War II, West Virginia State College was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission. Another Army program known as the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) existed for a short few years (1943-1944) during US involvement in World War II. Thus, in July 1943, when the 177-man ASTP Unit No. 3537 came to take accelerated engineering courses at WVSC, they arrived on a campus where the military presence was traditional. This was an advantage for both soldiers and regular students because it facilitated a quicker acclimation of each to the other and a faster establishment of effective study habits.

The name was changed to West Virginia State College in 1949, and in 1955 the Artillery Branch was converted to a General Military Science Program. The change would ensure cadets receive general military instruction with emphasis and fundamentals common to all branches of the Army.

The current Army ROTC building was constructed in 1973 and dedicated solely to the use by Cadre and Cadets of the Army Reserve Officer's Training Corps in 1975.

In April 2004, the college changed its name from West Virginia State College to West Virginia State University, and regained its Land-Grant status, which had been lost from 1957 until 2001.

Partnership programs from the "Yellow Jacket Battalion", offering instruction in Military Science, were established at the University of Charleston (UC) in April of 1980.

Today, Cadets who earn at least a Bachelor's degree and meet all other pre-commissioning requirements may be commissioned in any of the Army's branches. The WVSU Army ROTC "Yellow Jacket Battalion" has produced over 900 Officers, to include fifteen General Officers. Over one hundred Alumni achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel or higher are recognized in the ROTC Hall of Fame.