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In Their Own Words
More Than Just a Drill
On the heels of the passage of the National Defense Act of 1916, which created the Reserve Officers Training Corps, military training became mandatory for all male students. General military training was not unfamiliar to Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College students, as it was a requirement for the land grant institution from inception. To many OAMC students, the Reserve Officers Training Corps created opportunities to gain leadership skills. To others, ROTC was just something you had to do, and for some in this camp, it played an unexpectedly beneficial role. The late F.L. Holton, a 1941 graduate, remembered going to OAMC during the Great Depression and the struggle that some students often had just to get by. Holton described one of the benefits of ROTC:
“I thought it was kind of unusual — my class was the first class in ROTC to get long pants for uniforms. We were glad to get the new slacks. They were nice, new uniforms. It was required for all freshmen and sophomores to take two years of military. We would have classes Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday in military. Most people would wear their uniforms to class. Those men that were having a hard time having enough clothes wore their uniforms all four days and no one knew which two classes that they really attended.”
Edwin E. Glover (1922–2008), a member of the 1943 ROTC class, recalled being part of the 3,500 students on campus required to wear an ROTC uniform. He was in a very unique class of ROTC on the OAMC campus during the World War II era.
“There were about four hundred of us in this particular group that I was in. They closed the ROTC office because of the war, and we did not get our commission, so we all had to go to our branch school and earn our commission, our second lieutenant bars, and most of us went through Fort Benning — the Benning School for Boys in June of 1943 and got our commission, and a lot of us saw active duty service in the Second World War.”
When the OSU Library launched the oral history project with “O-State Stories,” Glover was one of the first to be interviewed. Although he graduated in 1947, Glover associated more with the class of 1944. That was the year he should have graduated. Instead, the ROTC officer was sent to battle in World War II. Glover estimated about 400 ROTC leaders from OSU went overseas, and less than half returned.
“A lot of us fought side by side,” said Glover, who was stationed in France and Belgium as a platoon leader on the front lines.
Glover’s combat ended when Germans attacked his platoon crossing a Belgian river, killing some and taking the rest as prisoners. He spent seven months and 11 days as a prisoner of war. Glover returned home to finish his education. He never left Stillwater, taking a job after graduation in OSU’s accounting department and working his way up to chief internal auditor, mentoring hundreds of young accounting students and reporting to five college presidents.
“I worked on every floor and in every corner of Whitehurst Hall,” he said. “It was a really wonderful and challenging career.”
While there are many more stories of how the OSU ROTC program has shaped the lives of women and men seeking their education at the home of the Cowboys, their recollections can also give us insight into the everyday challenges of students in a range of generations over the years. Listen to more OSU ROTC stories through the online collection of interviews.
More stories like this are available for members of the OSU Alumni Association. STATE magazine is a benefit of membership in the OSU Alumni Association. To join or update your membership go to orangeconnection.org/join
Uploaded on December 1, 2016