Wednesday, 28 November 2018 11:50

UA Army ROTC Celebrates 100 Years Featured

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(The University of Akron) The U.S. Army positions itself as “Army Strong,” an expression that can go beyond distinguishing the men and women in the service branch who spend long nights on patrol or parachute out of airplanes into combat.

“Army Strong” can also describe one of The University of Akron’s most enduring programs – Akron Army ROTC, which turns 100 years old this academic year.

In 1918, just a month after the end of the First World War, UA President Dr. Parke Kolbe and the Board of Trustees applied to the U.S. Department of War to establish a reserved officers’ training corps unit at the University. The following year, the Board approved a resolution to agree to the mandates and responsibilities set by the War Department in order to maintain its new ROTC program.

Striving to be the best

Lt. Col. Trevor S. Liverpool

Lt. Col. Trevor S. Liverpool

Over the past century, Akron ROTC, also known as the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Battalion, has continued to meet, and even exceed, those mandates. In fact, Akron ROTC still encompasses a four-year academic curriculum, annual summer training camps at Fort Knox, and cadets still train on Buchtel Field on Brown Street where yesteryear’s cadets once trained.

“Our program has performed well to meet the standards of the U.S. Army because we want to be the best in the country,” said Lt. Col. Trevor S. Liverpool, commander of Akron ROTC and chair of the Military Science and Leadership Department. “Akron ROTC was recognized this summer as the top-performing program in the critical area of cadet evaluations in our brigade. And last year, an Akron cadet was the distinguished graduate for Airborne. So, the determination to be among the best in the country has contributed to Akron ROTC’s success and longevity.”

Compulsory start

Cadet demonstrates the proper way to safely disassemble and maintain a rifle

Cadet Alex Spangler, a senior majoring in respiratory therapy, demonstrates the proper way to safely disassemble and maintain a rifle during weapons familiarization and safety training in Schrank Hall South at a leadership lab.

UA’s program, originally proposed as a volunteer course, was compulsory for all freshman and sophomore male students from fall 1919 until 1972. The four-year curriculum consisted of field fortifications, hippology (the study of horses), field sanitation, map reading and infantry tactics. Cadets began attending summer camp at Fort Knox in Kentucky in 1923, and most new officers attended six months of full-time training before serving part-time in the Army Reserve.

After World War II, the U.S. Air Force established a separate ROTC detachment at UA in 1947. (In June 2005, the detachment was integrated with Kent State University’s Air Force ROTC program.) Also, veterans took advantage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (aka the G.I. Bill) to fund their higher education at Akron ROTC, which commissioned its 1,000th graduate in 1955.

Female students held supportive roles in auxiliary groups in the early days of Akron ROTC, but they didn’t participate as cadets until the fall of 1970. Anne Marie (Connell) Freund ‘77 was the program’s first female graduate and the first female cadet commander of troops at UA. Female cadets now participate from across all majors and make up 41 percent of student participation in Akron ROTC.

Career launcher

Today, Akron ROTC has 112 undergraduate and graduate students, many of them pursing degrees in physical sciences, nursing, business and liberal arts.

ROTC is a college elective program where cadets can pursue the degree of their choice while learning valuable leadership skills. Upon completion of a degree, cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army and receive an average starting salary of about $51,000. Graduates can choose to serve in active duty, the Army Reserve or the National Guard.

Over the past 15 years, UA has supplemented funding from the U.S. Army with slightly more than $4 million in generous scholarships that assist with expenses such as tuition, fees and books.

“Akron ROTC provides unmatched apprenticeship in leadership; students are given a chance to challenge themselves to meet standards in accordance with the Army’s Leadership Requirements Model,” said Liverpool. “This model focuses on not only what a leader knows, but also what a leader does and what attributes they possess. Akron ROTC is an immersive program, from freshman all the way to senior years. It is designed to give the students and cadets leadership experience in real-life situations, so they become agile and adaptive. We produce some of the best cadets in the nation.”

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