Bison BN ROTC History

A Proud History - A Bright Future

Organized military training at Howard University began prior to the establishment of an ROTC detachment in 1918. During the Spring of 1917,following the entry of the United States into World War I, a national Army Training Detachment was organized at the University to serve as a “center” for training Negro men for leadership in the then rapidly expanding Army. Ninety-five men from this detachment were transferred to the 17th Provisional Training Camp at Des Moines, Iowa, where they received commissions as Second Lieutenants.

During the summer of 1918 the War Department expanded the detachment at Howard, bringing back many of the original members to serve as instructors at Howard and other institutions throughout the South. The Army Specialized Training Corps was demobilized following the cessation of hostilities in November 1918.

Between 1922 and 1942, some 450 students received Army commissions as a result of their training at Howard. This group, which represented more than 50 percent of the Blacks holding commissions at the beginning of World War II, served valiantly between 1941 and 1945.

Prior to 1954, all Army ROTC cadets at Howard were trained for service in the Infantry. In 1954, a general military science curriculum was introduced which enabled the cadets to prepare for any branch of the Army.

The modernization of ROTC had its beginnings at Howard in 1946 with the establishment of a unit of Army Air Corps cadets within the detachment. With the advent of the US Air Force as an independent service in 1947, an Air Force ROTC detachment was organized at the University.

For the first time in the long history of Howard’s ROTC program, females were enrolled in 1973 for the purpose of pursing a commission in the United States Army.

Historically, Howard University has had a proud military tradition. General Oliver Otis Howard, a graduate of the US Military Academy, for whom the University is named, was a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery, and served with distinction during the Civil War. General Howard, known by all as a true soldier, was conspicuously active in founding the University. He served as its third president.