Purdue Army Reserve Officers Training Corps | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
What is now ROTC started at Purdue University in 1888 as The Corp. It consisted of 92 men, 76 in the Infantry Company and 16 in a Field Artillery Platoon. Equipment at this time for the Corp consisted of 100 Springfield Rifles, 2 cannons, guns, bugles, etc.
In June of 1916, Battery B, from Purdue University mobilized under the call of President Woodrow Wilson. They Reported to Fort Benjamin Harrison on June 23rd with five officers and 139 men. They left Fort Benjamin Harrison for the Texas border on July 6th, and went into camp at Llano Grande, Texas. They were there until September 28th when they returned to Ft. Benjamin Harrison and were mustered out of Federal Service. Most of the men returned to Purdue University and continued their duties. The Armory also burned down in this year and was rebuilt and completed in 1918.
On March 3, 1919, under the provisions of the National Defense Act of 1916, a Field Artillery ROTC unit began enrollment at Purdue University. This unit started with 850 students. This unit consisted of a Headquarters Battery, Batteries A, B, C, D, E, and the Band. Equipment at this time included, three inch guns, one French 75mm gun, one British 75mm gun, one 155mm Howitzer and one 155mm gun.
On January 13, 1928, the Northeast corner of the Armory caught on fire, but was put out before it burned all the way down. The Armory was rebuilt once again, and the 1928 building stands to this day.
From the inception of ROTC at Purdue, until 1964, all male students were required to participate for their first two years of college. During these times, ROTC’s enrollment ranged from 850cadets up to a high of 3275 in 1942-43. Because ROTC enrollment was so large, they were able to participate in many different events. There was a rifle team in which about 500cadets tried out for in 1931-32. The drill team was nationally recognized. ROTC has changed dramatically since the 1960’s. It is no longer a requirement for every student to participate in ROTC for their first two years and it is no longer focused on Infantry or Field Artillery. Army ROTC now is focused on developing great officers who will be able to lead soldiers and make sound decisions. Purdue still has a rifle team and a drill team, along with a Ranger Challenge team and Ranger Club.
The Army has a long and proud presence at Purdue University that will no doubt continue for many more years to come.
For more information on Purdue Army ROTC History, see: http://www.purdue.edu/armyrotc/overview/history.php