ROTC celebrates 70 years on campus

It is not uncommon for students to see groups in cadet uniforms marching around campus. Students in the ROTC program have been a part of the UNA family for 70 years.

The ROTC program began at UNA in 1948, said Leuitenant Colonel William Pruitt.

He said the first commissioned class was in 1950 because it takes a few years after starting a program to commission a group.

Pruitt said UNA’s history with ROTC dates back further than the ROTC program because the military has been active since the start of UNA, at the time known as LaGrange College.

“I think it’s great that ROTC has been at UNA for 70 years,” said sophomore Jarrod Humphrey. “That just shows what a great school UNA is.”

Humphrey said it is important for universities to support the ROTC program because of what it can bring to a community.

“UNA is a great team,” Pruitt said. “In my four years here, I’ve been extremely impressed by the administration and their support toward this program.”

He said his greatest achievement at UNA was when ROTC received the title of the 2016 Top Program in Medium Category in the Southeast.

Pruitt said this achievement is even more impressive because the ROTC division at UNA almost shut down in 2013.

He said since the award, the program has sustained in numbers and academic scores.

“Growth is continuous,” he said. “If it’s not, you’re not gonna be successful.”

He said he describes the ROTC program as a family because of the bond they share.

“We are family,” he said. “We fight with each other from time to time, but we work those things out because we are all working toward the same thing.”

Senior Derriana Cain said the family atmosphere is what makes it special.

“I really love it,” she said. “We are family and I’m so glad I made that decision.”

Cain said she joined the army in 2013 and came to the UNA ROTC program in fall 2016.

She said she wants to encourage anyone thinking about ROTC to join because of the opportunities.

Freshman Alex Phillips said he feels ROTC is an honorable program which people should respect.

“I think it’s important to give young people the opportunity to serve their country and go to school,” Phillips said. “Everyone should have the opportunity to get an education. Those who serve the military sacrifice enough already, so they should not have to sacrifice education.”

Pruitt said the ROTC program is always working hard and hosting various events.

There are currently no plans to celebrate the 70 year anniversary.

He said the ROTC program celebrated 100 years of the ROTC program in the U.S. in 2016. He said the program began whenever the U.S. implemented the draft in anticipation of WWI.

The program has many plans for the rest of the semester including a day with high school ROTC programs and the annual military ball.