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The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and Brigham Young University

Last week General David H. Petraeus visited the campus of Brigham Young University to discuss the progress and challenges of the U.S. Military in the CENTCOM region, which includes Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and 17 other countries in the Middle East. General Petraeus spoke to a large gathering of students which included members of Brigham Young University’s Army and Air Force ROTC units. Both ROTC units are recognized across the country for their excellence. These units have been part of Brigham Young University since the early 1950s (Air Force) and late 1960s (Army)

The Air Force and Army ROTCs in review, 1960s

At the beginning of the administration of President Ernest L. Wilkinson the faculty suggested that the university establish some reserve officer units for the United States Air Force, Army and Navy. This was not a new idea. The university had hosted a unit of the Student Army Training Corp during the First World War. President Wilkinson took the faculty suggestion to the Board of Trustees and received permission to apply for the ROTC units. The university first applied to the Air Force and the Air Force ROTC was established in 1951. It was commanded by Colonel Jesse E. Stay and more than 1,100 students registered for the program during fall of 1951.

Colonel Jesse E. Stay, first commandant of the BYU Air Force ROTC, 1950s

President Wilkinson also made an application to the Army but the Army was not chartering new ROTC units at that time. It would not be until 1968 that the University was granted an Army ROTC unit. A Navy ROTC unit has not been established on the Brigham Young University campus.

Army ROTC, 1968

If you want to learn more about the history of the ROTC at Brigham Young University, contact the University Archivist at (801) 422-5821 or gordon_daines@byu.edu

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