TCU’s Military Legacy


The first U.S. Armed Forces training activities commenced on the TCU campus when the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor was still more than a year away. In June 1940, men who were enrolled in the government’s Civilian Pilot Training Program (later the War Pilot Training Program) were taught in TCU physics classes and were transported daily in buses provided by TCU to local fields for flying lessons.

From September 1942 to January 1944, Jarvis Hall was made available to the Special Flight Instructors Program (AV-P), which was an experimental effort by the Navy to utilize as instructors ensigns who were over age or did not meet the physical requirements to make combat pilots. TCU was the first of only six such units in the United States. Other service units quartered in Jarvis during this same time were the Army’s and Navy’s Enlisted Reserve Corps and a Marine Corps group. The Navy V-12 program for training of naval officers brought approximately 200 officers and trainees to live in the old Clark Hall. Trainees took regular college courses and received special technical training.

In 1950, the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) was officially established on the campus, joined by the Army ROTC the following summer. Initially, the Transportation Corps was the only branch represented on campus, producing 24 TCU officers through 1954. In the spirit of interservice cooperation, a joint Army-Air Force ROTC band was formed in 1952. In 1954, the Horned Frog Regiment Transportation Corps Officer Training Unit was redesignated as a General Military Science Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Unit, offering commissions in all branches. In 1955 and 1956, the Army-Air Force Corps of Cadets merged into one organization, but the Air Force established a separate program in 1957.

Women were first admitted to the ROTC units beginning in the early 1970s. The first female cadet from TCU was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army in 1975. Two years later, Air Force ROTC Cadet Gayle Remaly became the first female to be given the rank of cadet colonel (the top cadet leadership position) and was placed as commander of all cadets at TCU. In 1980, the first woman from TCU’s Air Force Detachment 845 was accepted to pilot training.

TCU ROTC Programs Today

Each TCU ROTC program now enrolls about 100 cadets per year. More than 660 Air Force officers have trained and commissioned with TCU AFROTC Detachment 845 over the past 55 years.

While at TCU, Army ROTC cadets conduct semiannual field training exercises, compete in the Brigade Ranger Challenge Competition, and participate in the Bataan Memorial Death March and the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency competitions. Cadets also perform civic projects for Habitat for Humanity and other groups as well as provide Color Guard support for local organizations and veterans’ groups.

Likewise, Air Force ROTC cadets organize the annual POW/MIA vigil. Each year, a former prisoner of war is invited to speak on campus, and a guard is posted in front of the TCU flagpole for 24 hours while American and POW/MIA flags are displayed. Cadets also march in Veterans’ and Memorial Day parades, compete in local orienteering challenges, and participate in regional and national drill competitions.

TCU Army ROTC cadets may attend Basic Airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Air Assault training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Some cadets participate in Northern Warfare training in Alaska and Cadet Troop Leader training at Army installations around the world. Between their junior and senior years, cadets attend the Leadership Development Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Washington, where they are rigorously tested in Army skills and hone their leadership traits.

Air Force ROTC cadets attend a variety of summer programs. Some cadets spend several weeks in the Soaring program learning to fly lightweight Air Force gliders. They may also attend the Air Force Academy’s Freefall program in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where they earn their basic parachutist badges. Other summer programs include the Rising Sophomore Program, Nurse Orientation and Combat Survival training. Between their sophomore and junior years, Air Force cadets attend field training, where they are trained and assessed as potential Air Force officers.

Since 1951, approximately 930 graduates of TCU have received Army commissions through the program. Though TCU Army ROTC cadets major in various fields of study, the University has a strong connection with the Army Nurse Corps. Over the years, the Harris School of Nursing has been one of the biggest producers of Army Nurse officers.

TCU’s Air Force Detachment 845 also boasts many awards and consistently ranks in the top 10 percent of all AFROTC detachments. Graduates support combat operations across the globe in a variety of career specialties.

Historical information provided by TCU historian Joan Hewatt Swaim ’56, AFROTC Detachment 845 and the 54th Horned Frog Battalion.

TCU AFROTC
Army ROTC