Gonzaga ROTC Celebrates 70th Anniversary

At the Military Ball on March 23, the youngest cadet in the Battalion, Lindsey Evers (Class of 2021), and the oldest attending program graduate, retired Col. William "Fred" Aronow (Class of 1967), cut the cake with a special sabre sword.

April 03, 2018

(Above) At the Military Ball on March 23, the youngest cadet in the Battalion, Lindsey Evers (Class of 2021), and the oldest attending program graduate, retired Col. William “Fred” Aronow (Class of 1967), cut the cake with a special sabre sword.

Gonzaga News Service 
SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Gonzaga Bulldog Battalion, ranked among the nation's elite ROTC programs, is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. The Military Ball at the historic Davenport Hotel last month marked the occasion, and more special events are planned this spring, including a CH-47 Chinook Helicopter coming to campus April 20 and April 22.

Unlike Gonzaga's first ROTC unit -- formerly called the "cadet program" -- a rag-tag outfit that operated from 1899-1908, the modern program was started by Col. Earnest Tabscott in the 1947-48 school year when it began to train hundreds of the nation's best officers who have served in Korea, Vietnam, and other locations worldwide. 

On May 11, 1950, President Harry S. Truman visited Gonzaga and presented the ROTC program with its unit standard. A platform was erected on the quadrangle south of College Hall (formerly the Administration Building) and an estimated 4,000 spectators watched President Truman receive a Citation of Merit from GU President Francis Corkery, S.J. for his "moral stand in world affairs." Truman, who had traveled to the region to attend the dedication of the Grand Coulee Dam, gave a 10-minute speech and officially recognized GU's ROTC program.

While the Army has changed significantly since then, Gonzaga's program has continued to produce some of the nation's best military leaders. Based on various measures -- including academic performance, physical fitness, and Advanced Camp course scores -- the Bulldog Battalion has ranked among the top 15 percent of the nation's ROTC programs since 2001. 

As the premier medium-sized unit in the region, the Bulldog Battalion was presented the 1996, 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2005 General Douglas MacArthur Award. In 1995 and 1997, the Bulldog Battalion was awarded the Founders and Patriots of America Award for being the best unit in the region west of the Mississippi River. This annual award is given jointly by the National Order of Founders and Patriots and U.S. Army Cadet Command to recognize the nation's top battalions. Additionally, the program's Class of 2003 earned the highest collective leadership score among all the 273 universities that sent cadets to the Leadership Development and Assessment Course.

Through ongoing partnerships, the program also includes students from Whitworth University and the Washington State University College of Nursing.

"This program has a legacy of excellence, a long list of accolades and accomplishments. I can't take credit for this; I inherited this legacy when I arrived here on campus a few years ago," said the program's leader, Lt. Col. Tim Culpepper, professor of military science. "And while I can't take credit for it, I can certainly enjoy it, and I do. It's such a privilege to serve with these young men and women; they're smart, motivated, and engaging, and they have a really strong work ethic. With the continued -- exceptional -- support of Gonzaga and Whitworth, along with the tireless efforts of our world-class cadre, these cadets will become some of the strongest officers in the United States Army."

Military Ball

The annual Military Ball on March 23 featured a keynote address from retired Lt. Gen. Francis "Frank" Wiercinski, former commander of the U.S. Army Pacific. Wiercinski, a combat veteran with over three decades of service, is highly respected for his many accomplishments. In particular, as a ranger company commander, he parachuted into Panama in 1989 as part of Operation Just Cause. He later served as the brigade commander of the 187th Infantry Regiment, the "Rakkasans," and led his troops as part of Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan.

The night also featured the cutting of the cake with a special sabre sword. The youngest cadet in the Battalion, Lindsey Evers, Class of 2021, and the oldest attending program graduate, retired Col. William "Fred" Aronow, Class of 1967, cut the cake.

Chinook Helicopter Landing

Also marking the program's 70th year, on Friday, April 20, a Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter is scheduled to land on Luger Field (on the southwest part of Gonzaga's campus) as part of an aviation operation that will fly cadets to Camp 7 Mile for their Spring Field Training Exercise. Two pick-ups are scheduled on Friday, April 20, at 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. The same helicopter will bring the cadets back to campus with drop-offs scheduled at approximately noon and 12:30 p.m., Sunday, April 22. 
The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is an American twin-engine, tandem-rotor helicopter. Its name is from the Native American Chinook people of Washington state. 

Civilians are not allowed on Luger Field during liftoff and landing, but the public is welcome to watch the Chinook from campus. The knoll on the south side of the Herak Center looking down on the field would be a good place to view the event. The helicopter is quite loud and can generate strong winds. For more information, please contact MSG Richard Flint at (509) 313-6518.