The Army ROTC cadets at Oklahoma State University are among some of the hardest working students on campus. They volunteer in the community when there is a need but generally keep a low profile on campus — except during a home football game. Football fans cheer the cadets on as they represent the ROTC and OSU as the OSU Push Up Board Crew. However, these young cadets have made their mark on campus for 100 years. In 2016, the program will celebrate its centennial at OSU.
The Army ROTC program, also referred to as the Department of Military Science, has plans to celebrate its centennial in grand fashion. During the 2016-17 OSU football season, ROTC will pay tribute to its past and present cadets, many of whom have gone on to establish distinguished and diverse military careers.
Retired Maj. Michael Dale, the recruiting operations officer of OSU’s Army ROTC program, explains its cadets coming from a wide range of academic majors, strengthens the program and helps to produce its outstanding officers.
Over the past 100 years, the program has commissioned more than 6,000 Army officers, producing 90 generals. The incentives to join the Army ROTC program include more than just scholarships and career opportunities. Dale said the program is a community for its cadets.
Every year, the cadets have opportunities to participate in unit projects, such as the Army Ranger Challenge and unit projects with the National Society of the Pershing Rifles. Last year, OSU cadets traveled to White Sands, N.M., for the Bataan Memorial March for the first time. Unfortunately, the Army doesn’t pay for these projects, so the cadets rely on the generosity of contributions and creative funding strategies.
Dale said many former cadets often donate to specific projects. However, there has been no general fund established that would help fill in the gaps for various other opportunities that might arise.
“I know our cadets would really like to participate in the Army 10-miler,” Dale said. “It costs money for us to go, and it’s one of those projects we haven’t gotten to take on yet. Even for last year’s Bataan March, one of our freshman cadets was instrumental in raising the funds for us to go.”
Former cadets of the program offer career advice and mentoring to current cadets, Dale said. Last year, an Army captain stopped by Thatcher Hall while he was in the area. The cadets were full of questions for this former OSU cadet who has achieved significant milestones in his young military career.
“He talked mostly about expectations after leaving the ROTC and his assignments and career progression,” Dale said. “He was commissioned as an infantry officer out of Oklahoma State. He went to the 173rd infantry regiment in Italy. He successfully made it through Ranger School and the Special Forces selection course, and he did three tours in Afghanistan. Cadets are excited to hear about these types of experiences.”
Scholarships, unit projects and relationships with former cadets are all benefits OSU Army ROTC cadets receive. Also, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin recently approved House Bill 138, which gives in-state tuition rates to out-of-state ROTC cadets.
Because of these opportunities and his personal experience with the program, Dale said he looks forward to another 100 years of working with even more cadets and honoring the Army ROTC tradition at OSU.
Help celebrate the Army ROTC at OSU on the College of Arts & Sciences website, and read the monthly feature about the program throughout the next year.