UT ROTC celebrates 70th anniversary, honors alumni

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Photo Credit: Ann Morris

The Tower was lit orange Tuesday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the UT Army ROTC program.

The UT Army ROTC hosted a reception and ceremony at the Carpenter-Winkel Centennial Room in Darrell K. Royal Stadium to honor cadets and alumni of the program.
Lt. Gen. (Ret) Lawson Magruder III, an Army ROTC alumnus, spoke at the reception. Magruder said he was proud of the cadets and alumni for serving the nation regardless of who is governing.

“Many in our nation are a little upset, and some are happy about the results of the presidential election,” Magruder said. “Those of us and those who are on active duty today, they raised their right hand to defend our constitution and obey the lawful orders of our commander in chief … regardless of who is commander in chief.”

Lt. Col. David Zinnante said what makes UT’s Army ROTC program special is cadet involvement in campus organizations.

“We don’t really have any one-trick ponies here in ROTC,” Zinnante said. “These young men and women are involved in sororities, in fraternities, in service organizations … We all know that that involvement is what is going to help us down the road and what’s going to help us provide the service that’s needed to be provided to our nation.”

Cadet Eric Kasper, a government junior, said he is proud of the UT Army ROTC program. He chose to enroll at UT instead of going to West Point because being at UT gives him a chance to be a student.

“I realized after visiting West Point that it was very strict in its rules,” Kasper said. “In Texas, I’m a student first so I’m really able to live that life while managing all these other priorities, like Army ROTC.”

Although ROTC was created in 1916 by Congress, John Boswell, an Army ROTC alumnus and historian, said UT did not establish their program until April 25, 1947 because students and faculty opposed militarism prior to World War II.

“Most of the country was saying, ‘No, we’re in a depression, we can’t afford to waste money on the military,’” Boswell said. “Had ROTC been accepted by UT at that time, then the first graduating class would have received their commissions in June of 1941, and of course, less than six months later, we were going to be at war.”