By: Kaitlin Gawkins – Assistant Print Editor
The University of Dayton’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps will celebrate 100 years of service next week. According to the University, UD ROTC alumni will host their centennial dinner commemorating this event at 5:30 p.m. on April 8, at the Dayton Marriott where Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Seamands, a UD grad of ’81, will serve as keynote speaker.
Founded in 1917, UD’s program laid its foundation just a year after former President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Defense Act of 1916. This act not only expanded the Army and National Guard, it also created the ROTC program itself, making the Fighting Flyers the oldest program continually operating program in the country.
The Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps trains college students for all branches of the U.S. armed forces via participation in regular drills and education during the school year and extended training during the summer. Since its inception in 1916, the ROTC program has trained, educated, and commissioned more than half a million officers from schools and universities across the country.
According to the University of Dayton, “Our cadets acquire the character-building aspects of a diverse, self-disciplined civilian education with tough, centralized leadership development training.” With a motto of “Fighting Flyers Lead the Way”, it is clear that the program is truly dedicated to this mission.
At the University of Dayton, the program is encouraged for anyone who is considering military service after their education. During the freshman and sophomore year at the university, the cadets have no obligation to join the military after school, allowing people to discern if the path is for them or not. After this period, ROTC grads are required to serve in the Army, Army National Guard, or Army Reserve for a specified period of time. By placing a focus on education and leadership, the program also trains the cadets for a career as a civilian after they serve.
The Fighting Flyers average a commission of 80 cadets annually who go on to serve in the Army, Army National Guard or Army Reserve, with 20 percent of these graduates usually being female.
Cadet Maddie Sieller, a sophomore psychology major from Cincinnati, Ohio, was granted a full four-year ROTC scholarship upon graduation from Mason High School. Sieller explained that the program is about much more than just basic army training.
“UD’s ROTC program has its focus on our education, first,” Sieller articulated. “They also place a huge emphasis on leadership and training us to be leaders in our community.” This sentiment is shared not only by Sieller but is also emphasized by the university itself in training programming, education, and support from educators.
In addition to the centennial dinner, where current students along with alumni of the program will dress up to mingle, honor the anniversary and reconnect, the university’s College of Arts and Sciences department has agreed to update the program’s facilities at O’Reilly Hall, the ‘home base’ for the Fighting Flyers. This well deserved upgrade was just a physical affirmation of the respect the university has always had for the Fighting Flyers program.
Army ROTC is available at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the nation, offering training and scholarship opportunities to participants.
Photo courtesy of Dave Larsen.