ROTC celebrated its centennial at Wofford in the fall of 2019 at a centennial ball in November. Major General Rodney Anderson, class of 1979, was the featured speaker.
The Southern Guards Battalion continues at Wofford today, with cross-enrollment agreements with USC-Upstate and Converse College The Department of Military Science offers basic and advanced courses, and offers opportunities for basic and advanced summer camps, airborne and air assault schools, and other leadership courses. Students in ROTC frequently present the colors at Wofford athletic events. Their presence on campus today represents an element of service to community and country that has long been part of the Wofford tradition. In 2019, ROTC held a centennial ball to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the battalion’s founding.
One particular type of military social ceremony is the dining in. There’s usually a particular structure to one of these events, which seem to come from British military customs.
These photos and programs are from military balls in 2001 and 2019.
While students in ROTC spend a lot of time in daily physical training, weekly classes and labs, and extended summer training at different Army bases, they also find time to celebrate a number of Army rituals during the year. Beyond the commissioning ceremony, these might include a military ball and a dining in. These clippings are from military balls in 1968 and 1974. Tomorrow, I’ll share some photos from military balls in the 2000s, and later, some information about Dining-in.
Scabbard and Blade is a military honor society established in 1904. Wofford received a charter for M company, 6th regiment of Scabbard and Blade in 1928. Wofford’s chapter was open to junior and senior members of ROTC, and members were chosen solely on merit. A cadet who was chosen for Scabbard and Blade had qualities of leadership and honor, according to descriptions in several yearbooks.
The culmination of four years of study and training occurs when each ROTC student receives his or her commission as a second lieutenant. At Wofford, the commissioning ceremony traditionally occurs during Commencement weekend. The commissioning ceremony itself is full of symbolism as each cadet takes the oath of office, has the gold bars of a second lieutenant pinned on their uniform, receives their commission, and then receives their first salute. Once they’ve been commissioned, newly-minted second lieutenants (and college graduates) generally attend a basic officer leader course that is specific to their branch of the Army.
ROTC began to admit women in the early 1970s. By the 1980s, the building on campus that it called home had seen better days, and so the battalion moved to new headquarters and the old ROTC building – which had stood since approximately 1904, was demolished to make way for the new Papadopoulos Building.
ROTC remained active at Wofford in the years after Vietnam, though with noticeably fewer students taking part in the program in the 1970s and 1980s. The program expanded beyond the Wofford campus, with students at Spartanburg Methodist College beginning to participate in 1970. Later, Converse College, USC-Spartanburg (now USC-Upstate) and Limestone College joined the cross-enrollment program. Women also began to participate in 1973. The battalion’s headquarters moved around campus, from the old ROTC Building (a former Wofford Fitting School building near the current Papadopoulos Building) to Snyder House and eventually to the Daniel Building. The battalion remained a visible presence on campus, presenting the colors at athletic events, offering Interim projects, and on lab days, wearing their uniforms.