Posted: September 20, 2010
RAS Decommissioning video (see bottom of page)
Steeped in tradition, imbued with honor, and rich in heritage, The University of Texas Army ROTC used the longhorn symbol before the University developed the “Bevo” logo, and has been housed in the same building for over 53 years. A building that is now scheduled for demolition in early September. On Friday, 27 August 2010, The University of Texas at Austin Reserve Officer Training Corps jointly hosted a decommissioning ceremony for the building with Alumnus John Boswell as our guest speaker and with University President William C. Powers also in attendance.
On 1 July 1947 the Department of Military Science and Tactics was added to the University’s already diverse curriculum. As Army ROTC enrollment at UT rose to 567 cadets in 1948 and higher in the early 1950s, the renowned father and son team Altee B & Robert M. Ayres began designing the building now known as the Russell A. Steindam building. The cornerstone for the building was laid in 1956, and the grandmaster key was presented to the faculty in July of 1957. The building was specifically design for the ROTC programs and boasted multiple supply rooms, lounges, a supply dock, offices for both faculty and cadets, and a myriad of rooms that would later becomes computer labs.
The building was officially renamed the Russell A. Steindam building on Veterans Day, 11 November 1972. Steindam was a graduate of the UT Army ROTC program and awarded the Medal of Honor on 1 February 1970, posthumously for giving “the last measure of devotion” in service of the Nation. Steindam was a First Lieutenant in the 25th Infantry Division station at Tay Ninh Province, in the Republic of Vietnam, and a native of Austin, Texas. To the Longhorn Battalion he serves as the embodiment of self sacrifice, as he used his own body to shield his platoon from an incoming grenade. Russell A. Steindam was one of five brave patriots who will be remembered for their supreme sacrifice for America, to include; Lieutenant William James Browning, 6 December 1950, Lieutenant John K. House, 1 May 1968, Lieutenant Roy L. Nelson, 23 April 1971, Lieutenant Marshal W. Williams, 19 October 1971, and Captain Orlando Bonilla, 28 January 2005.
The ceremony began with an invocation by US Air Force Cadet Kevin Stout and an Introduction by Major Jose L. Reyes of the United States Army. After Mr. Boswell’s poignant summarization of the history of the building and various Reserve Officer Training Corps, both Mr. Boswell and University President removed the plaque commemorating the building in honor of Russell A. Steindam. Immediately following, the US Navy midshipmen presented the American Flag to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Finally, the ceremony ended with a benediction by cadet Kevin Stout.
The Russell A. Steindam building has hosted tens of thousands of cadets and midshipmen en route to their commission, mourned the loss of those cut down way too early, and celebrated marriages, births and promotions. In addition to the UT Army ROTC’s participation in the Vietnam conflict, many UT graduates saw action during the Korean War and one, First Lieutenant William J. Browning, was killed in action. Graduates from the University of Texas at Austin Army ROTC Department have taken part in almost every military operation since Korea to include Operation Desert Storm, KFOR, SFOR, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The main classroom in the RAS building was dedicated to CPT Orlando Bonilla who lost his life in Operation Iraqi Freedom.