A year-long celebration of the centennial of the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corp at the University of Oklahoma will culminate at the OU vs. Army football game on Saturday, Sept. 22.
World War I was raging across the European continent when Josh Lee, president of the student body at OU, called on all male students to help determine the role of the university during peace and war. A proposal for forming a volunteer infantry unit was taken to OU President Stratton Brooks in 1917. The newly-formed State Board of Regents passed a resolution requiring all male students to participate in a two-year military training program, effective Feb. 1, 1918. Students fulfilling the two-year requirement could extend their military training in advanced programs at their discretion.
Since that time, the program has been home to more than 6,000 officers, 25 General Officers and two Medal of Honor recipients: Major John Luclan Smith and Lt. Col. Leon R. Vance. Notable graduates of the program include Hal Muldrow, Carl Albert, Lee Bennett Thompson James R. Kalsu and Edwin Price Ramsey. Honorary alumni of the program are David Wright and Edwin Price Ramsey.
The centennial celebration kicked off in March with the annual Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico, along with the Sooner Strong 5K run.
This fall, the festivities continue with a service day for OU Army ROTC members on Thursday at OU Children’s Hospital; tandem parachute jumps by OU luminaries with the Black Daggers on Friday; and on Saturday at the OU vs. Army game, game ball delivery by the Black Daggers parachute jumpers; members of the ROTC program and cadets holding a field-sized flag for the opening of the game; and at halftime, a historical horse and caisson section addition to The Pride of Oklahoma and much more.
OU President James Gallogly, OU Softball Head Coach Patty Gasso and OU Conditioning Coach Bennie Wylie are among the many members of the OU community participating in the tandem jumps on Friday. A public viewing area will be set up where the jumpers will land, just south of the Lloyd Noble Center.
Additionally, various military equipment will be stationed around the South Oval during the week for inspection by the public.
For more information on activities, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/soonerstrong.