South Dakota State University. Department of Military Science

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South Dakota State University. Department of Military Science

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Military instruction has always been a part of life at South Dakota State University. The Morrill Act of 1862, which established the land grant colleges, required the colleges to provide instruction in "military tactics." At South Dakota State University, formal military classes began in September 1884 under the leadership of Professor Robert F. Kerr. Lectures, recitations and regular drills formed this instruction. Until 1918, the college fulfilled the military requirements with mandatory drill work and coursework led by civilian instructors. With the passage of the National Defense Act in 1916, the Reserve Officers Training Corps, known at ROTC, came into being and replaced the less formal military training at all land grant colleges, including South Dakota State University. The headquarters of the ROTC were at the local land grant colleges, and the training curriculum was set by the War Department. The colleges were given personnel and equipment to carry out the curriculum. / General Omar Bradley was a former Professor of Military Science here at SDSU. Although he is more well known as being the commander of the largest field force in military history during World War II, and the first ever Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it was he who dubbed SDSU Army ROTC "The West Point of the Plains." This title is still used frequently and proudly by all of its members past and present. / ROTC required all underclassmen to participate in basic military training for their first two years. Selected upperclassmen were allowed to participate in advanced work on a voluntary basis. At first, training was provided in a number of different service branches. By 1942, when the DePuy Military Hall was constructed, training at the university was limited to Army and Air Force ROTC. At South Dakota State University, the Army and Air Force ROTC continued to provide compulsory training for all freshmen and sophomore men until 1969, when the Board of Regents made ROTC voluntary. Although the numbers decreased, students continued to participate in the program, and do so still. / The Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) provides leadership, management, ethics, and personal confidence training to prepare cadets for responsibilities as commissioned officers in the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve, and active duty. Classroom instruction, hands-on training, and field training encompass the values and skill sets necessary for success. Opportunities abound for specialized training.

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