Wheaton College
Twice a year, cadets take the Army Physical Fitness Test to ensure that Army fitness standards are maintained.

The Push-Up Event

Twice a year, cadets take the Army Physical Fitness Test to ensure that Army fitness standards are maintained.

A History of Wheaton College ROTC

The Cold War was at its pinnacle in the 1950's, and Americans lived inconstant fear of war with the Soviet Union and her allies. It was during this turbulent time that Wheaton College trustee Philip Howard recommended the introduction of Army ROTC at Wheaton College. The proposal received overwhelming acceptance and on June 20, 1952 the first unit was activated.

Beginning in the fall of 1952, ROTC was mandatory for all freshmen and sophomore men. Lieutenant Colonel George D. Callaway became the first Professorof Military Science for the corps of 300 cadets. The Advanced Program of juniors and seniors in Military Science was strictly voluntary, and successful completion led to a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. This commissioning took place at the college's commencement ceremony. In1955 the first class of Wheaton College officers graduated from the program. Officers commissioned per year peaked at twenty-eight in 1965 and declined to alow of seven in 1978. Currently, the college commissions about a dozen Wheaton students each year, in addition to students from other cross-enrolled schools such as Olivet Nazarene University, North Central College, and Lewis University.

Continuing a Tradition of Excellence

ROTC remained a requirement for all underclass males until 1969. During the early 1960s there was little opposition to ROTC on campus. ROTC enjoyed strong support from Wheaton college presidents Edman and Armerding, both of whom were veterans and believed that military service was an excellent way to serve the Lord and their country. But in the late 1960's, Wheaton was not spared the social turmoil brought on by the Vietnam War. There were protests against ROTC by students and faculty a like. The protests subsided when the requirement for sophomores to participate in ROTC was eliminated. In 1975, by recommendation from the military science cadre and with popular support from the entire college community, ROTC was made completely voluntary. Four years later, in 1979, Wheaton College commissioned its first female officer. The 1980's saw a revival of the ROTC program at Wheaton. The number of commissionees jumped to twenty-four in 1983. This increase was due in part to cadets from Lewis University and Olivet Nazarene University joining the program. These two schools, along with a handful of other colleges in the area, contribute about 20% of the approximate one-hundred cadets in the program.

Paving the Road to the Future

Today, as in the past, the Crusader Battalion provides rigorous and challenging training to help shape America's future leadership "for Christand His Kingdom." Currently there are alumni serving in Bosnia, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other world hot spots defending our country and protecting its freedom. The rich history of the program continues to be a wonderful testimony to what the Lord is doing with Christians who choose to serve their Lord in the profession of arms.

Following the transition of Wheaton College's mascot from the Crusader tothe Thunder in the fall of 2000, the ROTC battalion became the Rolling Thunder.