Army ROTC in the United States
"We must ... make military instruction a regular part of collegiate instruction. We can never be safe till this is done." - Thomas Jefferson, 1813
History of the Longhorn Battalion
1997 marked the 50th Anniversary of Army ROTC at the University of Texas at Austin. For more than half a century, the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps at the University has been engaged in the mission of providing for our country capable and dedicated men and women to serve as Army Officers. On I July 1947 the Department of Military Science and Tactics was added to the University's already diverse curriculum. The first professor of military science was Colonel Maybin H. Wilson. Cadets were to train for a commission in the Engineer, Quartermaster, Transportation and Military Police Corps. Currently all basic branches of the Army are offered. Army ROTC enrollment at UT rose to 567 cadets in 1948.
Many UT graduates saw action during the Korean War and one, First Lieutenant William J. Browning, was killed in action. In his memory, the cadet lounge (now the cadet computer lounge) in the ROTC building was dedicated as the Browning Brigade Room. During the 1950s a new building was completed specifically for use by the three ROTC units. In 1965 construction was completed on a new rifle range adjacent to the ROTC Building. During the Vietnam conflict, Army ROTC enrollment reached 423 in 1968. Many of our graduates served in Vietnam and four lost their lives. We remember them for their contributions and supreme sacrifice to America:
- Lieutenant John K. House, 1 May 1968
- Lieutenant Russell A. Steindam, 1 February 1970
- Lieutenant Roy L. Nelson, 23 April 1971
- Lieutenant Marshal W. Williams, 19 October 1971
Following the Vietnam era, enrollment decreased and cross enrollment programs were established at several local colleges. Cross enrolled students come to the Longhorn battalion from Concordia Lutheran College, St. Edward's University, Austin Community College, University of Central Texas, Central Texas College and Huston-Tillotson University. In 1981, Southwest Texas State University became an extension center.
Graduates from the University of Texas at Austin Army ROTC Department have taken part in almost every military operation since Vietnam to include Operation Desert Storm, KFOR, SFOR, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. We pay respect to our fallen comrade and graduate who sacrificed all in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom:
- CPT Orlando Bonilla
The ROTC cadets today are diverse in their academic interests, opinions and beliefs yet they share a common conviction of selfless service to America. Our diversity prevents stagnation and our singleness of purpose and conviction gives us strength and unity. Through the years, Army ROTC at the University of Texas has helped to shape and develop many outstanding officers who have served America in uniform. We take great pride in our past and look forward to the future of this great nation.
History of the ROTC Building at The University of Texas at Austin
The ROTC Building is named after Lieutenant Russell A. Steindam, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry in action at risk to his own life above and beyond the call of duty. His citation is listed below:
MEDAL OF HONOR
1LT RUSSELL A STEINDAM
B TROOP THIRD SQUADRON FOURTH CAVALRY
25TH INFANTRY DIVISION
FEBRUARY 1, 1970
STEINDAM, RUSSELL A.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Troop B, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry, Division.
Place and date: Tay Ninh Province, Republic of Vietnam, 1 February 1970.
Entered service at: Austin, Tex.
Born: 27 August 1946, Austin, Tex.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Steindam, Troop B, while serving as a platoon leader, led members of his platoon on a night ambush operation. On the way to the ambush site, suspected enemy movement was detected on 1 flank and the platoon's temporary position was subjected to intense small arms and automatic weapons fire as well as a fusillade of hand and rocket-propelled grenades. After the initial barrage, 1st Lt. Steindam ordered fire placed on the enemy position and the wounded men to be moved to a shallow bomb crater. As he directed the return fire against the enemy from his exposed position, a fragmentation grenade was thrown into the site occupied by his command group. Instantly realizing the extreme gravity of the situation, 1st Lt. Steindam shouted a warning to alert his fellow soldiers in the immediate vicinity. Then, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Steindam deliberately threw himself on the grenade, absorbing the full and fatal force of the explosion as it detonated. By his gallant action and self-sacrifice, he was able to save the lives of the nearby members of his command group. The extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by 1st Lt. Steindam were an inspiration to his comrades and are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.
History of ROTC
The Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) had its beginning with the Morrill Act of 1862, which provided for military instruction in land grant colleges. In 1866, a Congressional act gave the President the authority to detail as many as twenty officers to teach Military Science in schools of higher learning. By 1893, the number of instructors had increased to a hundred and they were called Professors of Military Science. By the turn of the century, more than 100 colleges and universities offered instruction in Military Science. The National Defense Act of 1916 provided for additional officers to be trained in colleges and universities under the now formalized ROTC program. This act, along with the Defense Act of 1920, more closely tied the training of officers with the actual needs of the Army. By 1928, the ROTC program had enlarged to include units in 325 schools, enrolling 85,000 students, and commissioning 6,000 men per year. This relatively inexpensive program paid rich dividends when the nation prepared for war in 1940-41. At the outbreak of WW II, more than 56,000 ROTC officers were called to duty. By the end of the war, 100,000 plus had served. By 1950, 219,000 students were enrolled in ROTC. In 1964, the ROTC program was revised to improve the flow of qualified Reserve officers into the Active Army, as well as the reserve components. The four-year senior program was strengthened with the addition of scholarship provisions. A two-year program was also added. Congress additionally authorized the establishment of Junior ROTC programs at qualified public and private secondary schools in 1966. Between 1965 and 1970, ROTC provided the primary source of new officers for the Regular Army and the Reserves, with the National Guard relying on state-run officer Candidate Schools (OCS) for its officers. In 1971 with the winding down of the Vietnam War, a growing number of ROTC graduates were released into the Reserves or National Guard due to cutbacks in active Army officer requirements. On 2 May 1986, the US Army ROTC Cadet Command was established as a major subordinate command under Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Along with activation came a redesigned patch bearing the motto "Leadership Excellence". Currently, the program is offered at more than 250 host institutions and extension centers. Additionally, more than 1,000 other schools offer the program through cross enrollment agreements. ROTC commissions over 3,800 cadets as second lieutenants per year, providing the US Army with over 70 percent of its new officers.
Mission of the Army ROTC Program
The mission of the Army ROTC program is to "Commission the future officer leadership of the United States Army and motivate young people to be better Americans."
Goals of the Army ROTC Program
- To attract, motivate and prepare selected students with the potential to serve as commissioned officers in the Regular Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard
- To provide an understanding of the fundamental concepts and principles of military art and science
- To develop leadership and managerial potential, a basic understanding of associated professional knowledge, a strong sense of personal integrity, honor and individual responsibility, and an appreciation of the requirement for national security