DET 650 History
Following World War II, General Dwight D. Eisenhower signed General Order No.124 establishing Air ROTC units at 78 colleges and universities throughout the nation. Ohio University was one of those institutions.
The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) first arrived at Ohio University in 1935. At this time, the Air Force as it is known today, was under the Department of the Army and called the Army Air Corps.
In the summer of 1946, Capt Mark Treat (a B-26 pilot) went Temporary Duty (TDY) to Perrin Air Force Base (AFB), Texas to join other officers receiving training on how to start Army Air Corps Detachments at these 78 schools. Following training, he reported to the commander of the Ohio University Army ROTC unit; he had been told there would be a separate "Air Force" soon. In September 1946, the first 40 Air Force officer candidates began classes in the basement of what is now Scripps Hall. Their textbook was a 25 cent paperback edition of "The History of the Army Air Corps."
Captain Treat rented a home at 125 North Congress Street, but his Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) lived in some trailers that were set up at the Fairgrounds for World War II veterans. Most of the students were World War II veterans as well, and lived on "Hog Island," a group of barracks built on what is now the East Green. The pilots on the detachment staff had to fly each month to keep their proficiency and flight pay, so they drove to Lockbourne AFB (now Rickenbacker International Airport) and flew with the African American flyers stationed there known as the famous "Tuskegee Airmen."
In September 1947 the National Security Act created a separate Air Force. On 1 July 1949 Army and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) were designated as separate departments at Ohio University. In this era, cadets earned $27 per month in Subsistence Allowance: not bad considering tuition and fees totaled around $45 per semester.
AFROTC underwent changes in the 1950s. In May 1950 the John P. Robbins Squadron of the Arnold Air Society (AAS) formed at Ohio University, just one month after AAS started at the University of Cincinnati. The first cadet regulations were published and a bill to allow women into the corps was introduced. Detachment 650 reached its high point in enrollment in the 1950-51 school year, with 500 basic and 350 advanced students. A record 130 cadets received commissions that June.
Though there was an experimental program at a few universities to commission women through ROTC from 1956-1960, the program officially admitted women in 1969 and the first female Ohio University commissionee was 2nd Lt Harriet Hunter in 1974.
The size of Ohio University's AFROTC program has varied over the years, from the early 1950s when there were over 800 cadets to years with fewer than 50 cadets, depending on the needs of the Air Force. Due to the strong support of then Ohio University President Ping, the unit survived an effort by the Air Force to close the unit as a cost cutting move.
Air Force ROTC at Ohio University has a proud tradition of producing high quality young officers for the United States Air Force. We are very proud of the accomplishments of the first 60 years, and look forward to an even better future!
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