CLEMSON — Clemson University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps will celebrate the ROTC’s 100th anniversary Thursday on Bowman Field.
There will be a 5 p.m. ceremony naming two outstanding former Army cadets — retired Lt. Gen. Gene Blackwell and retired Col. Ben Skardon — to the Clemson ROTC Hall of Fame. Former outstanding cadets also will be named patrons to each training unit. Each patron’s story will be read, and there will be a mini “museum” of artifacts from the university’s Special Collections on display. The ceremony will be streamed live online on ClemsonTV.
“I am proud to be part of a university with such a strong military heritage,” said Max Allen, Clemson’s chief of staff and a retired U.S. Navy officer. “As a product of the Navy ROTC, I can see that Clemson has outstanding Army and Air Force ROTC units, both of which do an excellent job of preparing young men and women for service as military officers. ROTC also plays an important role in campus life, helping keep Clemson’s military traditions alive.”
The Army ROTC, as it exists today, began with President Woodrow Wilson signing the National Defense Act of 1916. Although military training had been taking place in civilian colleges and universities as early as 1819, the National Defense Act brought this training under single, federally controlled entity. The Army ROTC produces more officers than any organization in the military, having commissioned more than half a million second lieutenants since its inception.
“Army ROTC at Clemson has been an integral part of Clemson since ROTC began here in 1917, however, Clemson has a much longer military heritage since its inception in 1889,” said Lt. Col. James Mullinax, a professor of military leadership and commander of its ROTC program.
“Being a former military school, Clemson has embraced ROTC fully since we went to an all-volunteer force. The support Clemson provides cadets is unmatched across the nation,” he said.
“Clemson not only provides scholarships, but also provides great visual reminders all over campus of the sacrifices our service members have made in defense of our nation. This support to the ROTC programs has made them stronger today than at any point in time and this shows in the quality of lieutenants Clemson is producing every year. Cadets are carrying on a great military tradition that Clemson was founded on.”
Col. Christopher Mann, commander of Clemson’s Air Force ROTC detachment – the Flyin’ Tigers – said it has been part of Clemson since 1947, the year the U.S. Air Force became a separate and independent service.
“Since that time, Clemson graduates have served their nation honorably and with total commitment to the Air Force core values of ‘Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.’”
Clemson’s Air Force ROTC has had 22 general officers produced from its ranks over the past 68 years.