Army ROTC History

  • Founded in 1950, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) has commissioned over 1,983 Second Lieutenants into the federal Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard.

    The IUP ROTC program began on October 12, 1948 when the Indiana State Teachers College (ISTC) Board of Trustees authorized Dr. Willis E. Pratt, the new president of ISTC, to enter into negotiations for the establishment of an Army ROTC unit at the college. By June 1950, Lieutenant Colonel Hubert E. Thornber arrived to assume his duties as the college’s first Professor of Military Science and Tactics (PMST). Instruction began in September 1950, and ISTC assumed the important mission of providing officers solely for the Army’s Quartermaster Corps – in fact, ISTC was the only college in the entire ROTC system that commissioned officers only for the Quartermaster Corps. In September 1966, the General Military Science Program was adopted, allowing IUP’s ROTC program to commission officers in branches of the Army for which they were best qualified, not just the Quartermaster Corps. Under this new system, IUP graduates began to fill the ranks of the 17 major branches of the U.S. Army (Source: IUP Special Collections and University Archives, Record Group 34).

    The tradition of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps was established by the U.S. Congress in 1901. These officers serve our nation at home and overseas, defending their citizens in both peacetime and war. It wasn’t until 1973 that women were allowed to enroll in the program.  That year, 53 female students joined ROTC across the United States.  By 1977, there were over 300 women in ROTC nation-wide. The first IUP nursing major to complete the program and commission was Ann Guttendorf in 77-78, and now many nursing majors follow in her footsteps.  

    To this day the mission of the Department of Military Science has not changed. The department strives to educate, train, and inspire cadets so that each graduate is committed to the Warrior Ethos and the U.S. Army Values; prepared for leadership as a commissioned officer in the United States Army; and dedicated to a lifetime of selfless service to the nation. Originally required as a mandatory class for all male underclassmen, Military Science teaches the principles of leadership. Today, ROTC trains enrolled cadets to become officers, while additionally offering a Fundamentals of Military Science course that fulfills the Dimensions of Wellness requirement for the university.

    The Department of Military Science is currently located on campus in Pierce Hall. Constructed with the financial assistance of the American people through the Higher Education Facilities Act, Pierce Hall was built in 1960 to house the Department of Military Science. The building was named after Colonial William Elliot Pierce, of Indiana Pennsylvania, who graduated from the then Indiana Normal School and served as an officer in the Pennsylvania National Guard. He deployed to France in the First World War and for his actions, he was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart, and Croix de Guire by the French government. Having a large impact on the relationship between the military and the Indiana community, Pierce Hall was appropriately named after him in his death in 1960.

    Rising to the nation’s call in the Second World War, IUP ROTC remembers the 4 fallen Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Named after two distinguished veterans, the Piwinsky brothers’ cadet work area is dedicated in honor of their sacrifices of the 338th Infantry Battalion. The lounge area of Pierce Hall is dedicated in memorial to Captain Robert Young and Lieutenant Kevin Flannery who were killed in action in the Vietnam War. Their tributes on the wall donated by their fraternity, Theta Chi, represent the strong history that ROTC has with the collegiate community. During the nationwide Vietnam War campus protests, several fraternities stepped in to help shield the ROTC department from harassment.

    Starting in the 1970’s, the Military Science department started the Simultaneous Membership Program with the National Guard and the Reserve components to give non-scholarship cadets a chance to serve during college and experience an officer’s education. In many cases during the Cold War, only half the Military Science credits were needed and, subsequently waived, to be commissioned as an officer if a cadet had prior service experience. Today, the program allows a student to attend college courses, enroll in ROTC as a cadet and simultaneously attend drill in an Army National Guard or Army Reserves unit while earning the pay of an enlisted Sergeant

    A keystone in the Army’s force for generating officers, IUP’s history stands out for its performance among 2nd Brigade: trophy cases full of Ranger Challenge Awards, Marksmanship Honors, and even being known as the first Training and Doctrine Command unit to conduct the revised German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge with representatives of the Bundeswehr. For more than half a century, the Military Science Department takes pride in its long history of leadership and excellence. Warrior’s First.

    Hall of Fame

    •  Lieutenant Colonel Barry D. Gasdek
    •  Colonel Stephen G. Abel (Retired)
    •  Colonel Denise L. Hopkins-Chadwick