National Army ROTC program celebrates 100th anniversary

RIT ROTC Tiger Battalion to commemorate anniversary with a campus Battalion Run on April 1

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Michelle Cometa

Cadet Josh Closson, a member of RIT’s Army ROTC program, is one of 100 cadets who will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Reserve Officers Training Program on Friday, April 1, with a Battalion Run starting at the front of campus.

The U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC, is 100 years old this year. Rochester Institute of Technology’s Tiger Battalion will commemorate the national milestone with a Cadence Run at 6:30 a.m. on Friday, April 1. A cadence run is the traditional call and response songs and chants by military personnel during exercise runs and marches. Beginning in N Lot at the front of campus, nearly 100 cadets in the program will traverse Andrews Drive around RIT chanting one of its own cadences.

The group will also host a reception and information session from 3 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 2, in the Fireside Lounge located in RIT’s Student Alumni Union. Speaking at the reception will be Lt. Col. Christopher Otero, professor of military science and commander of RIT’s Army ROTC program. The session is part of the university’s Accepted Students Weekend programming.

“The cadence run is a part of physical training for cadets, usually taking place very early in the morning and a way to build morale among the cadets. It will be impressive with 100 of us running throughout the campus in formation. Events like these are also a way for people on campus to see us, learn more about what we do and who we are,” said Josh Closson, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student and member of RIT’s Army ROTC program.

Closson learned about the program after he arrived at RIT as a freshman. He took some of the introductory military science classes offered to enrolled cadets but also open to the general population of students. The Lancaster, N.Y., resident enjoyed the program and formally joined ROTC in his second semester, he said, adding, “this has helped my academic career in engineering with both having an emphasis on problem-solving and attention to details. The best part is the camaraderie and support structure of this team.”

Army ROTC has 275 programs located at colleges and universities throughout the United States, with more than 30,000 young men and women enrolled. Once commissioned, student-cadets become second lieutenants in the Army, Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve. The organization was established through the National Defense Act of 1916 signed by President Woodrow Wilson. Since that time, ROTC programs have produced more than 70 percent of the second lieutenants serving in the Army, and more than 40 percent of current active duty Army general officers were commissioned through the program, according to the Army’s Cadet Command.

RIT’s Tiger Battalion was launched in September 1969, and the first class was commissioned in 1971. The detachment includes students from RIT, as well as the University of Rochester, Nazareth College, St. John Fisher College, SUNY Geneseo and Monroe Community College. Since it began, RIT’s Army ROTC program and several individual cadets have been recognized for their achievements regionally and nationally with top placements at the annual Cadet Leadership Course, held at Ft. Knox, Ky., and on the Army ROTC’s prestigious Order of Merit list of top cadets in the country.

RIT also has a long-established and award-winning Air Force ROTC program. Commissioning ceremonies for both Army and Air Force ROTC cadets take place on campus each year at the same time as the university’s graduation. Student-cadets participate in both ceremonies, earning academic honors and becoming commissioned officers in their respective service branch.