Fifty years ago this Fall, Appalachian State’s ROTC program was sparked. On November 23rd the Program and the University celebrated the Anniversary.
By Megan Bruffy
Posted Nov. 26, 2019 at 4:30 p.m.
BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, which currently enrolls 140 cadets, culminated its yearlong 50th anniversary celebrations last weekend, with program faculty, students and alumni participating in Heroes Day at the Nov. 23 Appalachian football game against Texas State University.
The university’s Mountaineer Battalion first launched in 1969 at the height of the Vietnam War. In the five decades since, the battalion has commissioned 950 officers, including Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley ’84, director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, and Maj. Gen. John Evans ’88, commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command. They were both on hand, along with other officers from the Mountaineer Battalion, for the weekend’s events.
Lt. Col. Chris Kleman, professor of military science at Appalachian, said, “The significance of the 50th anniversary of ROTC at Appalachian cannot be overstated. This university has a proud tradition of producing officers of character and servitude for the U.S. Army and is on path to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”
He continued, “This success is an absolute testament to the quality of the students here at Appalachian and the dedication of the university’s faculty, staff and local community.”
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Historical photo of individuals in Appalachian State University’s Army ROTC program. Photo courtesy of University Archives and Records
ROTC is a leadership course in which college curriculum is paired with field training so that students learn to lead others, motivate groups and conduct missions as an officer in the Army. Upon graduation from Army ROTC, cadets earn the bar of a second lieutenant.
On Saturday, Nov. 23, the ROTC welcomed members of its first cadre and staff from 1969, as well as members of the public, to view memorabilia from the program’s history — including a copy of the first Cadet Newsletter produced during the inaugural year of the program and a collection of historical photos.
Kleman commended the program for 50 years of success and read a letter of congratulations from the four-star commanding general of the Army Training and Doctrine Command.
Kleman also presented a plaque to Capt. Glenn “Bob” Marrs, the first officer cadre who began Appalachian’s ROTC program in 1969. Marrs, who was born in Elizabethton, Tennessee, fought in the Vietnam War and was subsequently given the mission to establish the ROTC at Appalachian.
As part of Heroes Day at the Appalachian football game, Ashley, the 2018 Appalachian State University Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, presided over the game’s coin toss. During the first quarter, Evans conducted a contracting ceremony in which Appalachian ROTC cadets took an oath to commit themselves to graduating from Appalachian and serving as an Army officer on active duty in the Army Reserve or with the National Guard.
About the Department of Military Science and Leadership
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, Appalachian’s Department of Military Science and Leadership is home to the Mountaineer Battalion. Established in 1969, the program provides students with training to develop self-discipline, physical stamina and poise, as well as the organizational and motivational skills that contribute to success in any career. Students who complete the ROTC program earn credits for a minor in military science and leadership and are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army, Army Reserves or Army National Guard upon graduation.