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ROTC Celebrates 50 Years at Sam With Display at Library

The exhibit will be on display through July 4 at the Newton Gresham Library, according to library employee Cheryl Patton .

Celebrating its 50th year at Sam Houston State University, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) has an exhibit on display at the Newton Gresham Library to showcase its development over the past half century.

The exhibit, titled "ROTC: Celebrating 50 Years at Sam Houston State University," will be on display through July 4, according to Cheryl Patton, who helped set up the display. Barbara Mason of SHSU's historic Peabody Library along with members of the military science department led by 2nd Lt. Melissa Huizar also helped create the exhibit.

Just about every major step the ROTC program has taken over the five decades is chronicled in the display. Newspaper clippings are presented commemorating the joining of women in the ROTC ranks in 1974.

This was a uniform worn in Desert Storm by Sam Houston State graduate Rowdy Inman

There is also memorabilia documenting the very early years of ROTC at Sam Houston State, back when the unit's drill team became known as "Lowman Rifles" after then-president Harmon L. Lowman. Pictures and published material give a description of how things were done at Sam Houston State back then.

Pictures of several well known ROTC graduates and former staff members are provided. Perhaps the most well known individual pictured is Lt. Col. M.B. Etheredge. Etheredge, a former faculty member in education, was the second most decorated soldier in World War II. A picture of him and Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in the war who eventually became a feature film star, is also shown along with various memorabilia.

Viewers of the exhibit can also see up close a uniform submitted by Sam Houston State ROTC graduate Rowdy Inman. Inman wore the uniform while serving in Desert Storm.

The ROTC program was formally established in June 1952. The first five ROTC cadets received their commissions in May 1954.

Initially, enrollment in the program was mandatory for all qualified male students. Consequently, the enrollment grew to 1,242 cadets by 1962. In 1965, mandatory participation ceased, resulting in a sharp decline in enrollment.

A cross enrollment between Sam Houston State University and Blinn Junior College existed from Fall 1974 until Spring 1977. Low cross enrollment trends necessitated the termination of that agreement.

The military science department is now fully recognized as an academic department, with a minor in military science offered. In addition to ROTC courses, cadets can participate in the numerous Bearkat Battalion activities including Lowman Rifles Drill Team, Scabbard and Blade, Color Guard, Intramurals, Schuder's Rangers, Cannon Crew, and social events.

In April 1990, the Bearkat Battalion received the MacArthur Award as the best large ROTC program in the country. The plaque awarded to the unit can be seen in the display.

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SHSU Media Contact: Brandon Autrey
June 20, 2002
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