ROTC celebrates 100 years at WKU

Freshmen ROTC member Peter Fields from Erlanger, Kentucky practices a fall while rappelling off the side of Parking Structure 1 as part of the curriculum for his Military Science 101 class Wednesday. “This is my first time rappelling. I’m actually afraid of heights, so this is a fun learning experience, overcoming fears.” Gabriel Scarlett/HERALD.

Emily DeLetter

In honor of 100 years on the Hill, WKU’s Army ROTC held several events throughout the fall semester to celebrate its milestone.

The Army ROTC was established in October 1918 when several instructors were sent to WKU to train as a response to World War I. By January 2019, the Army was fully established and still continues to train and commission Army officers.

In recognition of 100 years, a tailgate was held during Homecoming week with alumni which featured a cake cutting and memorabilia. LTC Michael Kenney was also inducted into the WKU ROTC Hall of Fame, which is “the highest honor bestowed upon an individual by the ROTC program at WKU,” according to a statement from ROTC.


During WKU’s Veteran’s Day service on Sunday, ROTC was also recognized for its 100th anniversary.

ROTC program coordinator Beth Dillon said joining WKU’s ROTC offers many benefits to students.

“They’re able to be here on campus, which is very military friendly,” she said. “Students can serve their country while still attending college, which is completely paid for. There’s also wonderful support from leadership and great alumni who are still very involved.”

There are currently 150 students enlisted in WKU’s ROTC. Students interested in joining ROTC begin as freshmen and compete to earn a position in the program by maintaining physical training requirements and keeping their grades up. Once they meet these standards, they are contracted into ROTC.

Students graduating the ROTC program are commissioned in the Army as second lieutenant and can choose to serve in Active Army, Army Reserves or serve in the National Guard.

Bowling Green senior Trae Cardwell originally enlisted in the Army in 2015 but said he realized during basic training that he wanted to be an Army officer. Cardwell enrolled in WKU and joined ROTC, a decision he said has been “very enlightening” for his career.

“I’ve met good people here and learned a lot as far as leadership goes,” Cardwell said. “As a senior, I’m able to have leadership positions that help me prepare to be an officer after I graduate.”

Cardwell said he is guaranteed a National Guard scholarship after his graduation but is still awaiting placement at a branch school from the Army. In the meantime, he plans to get a job using his minor in finance.

“I think ROTC has a good perception from the rest of WKU,” he said. “Anytime I’m in uniform, people will go up to me and thank me for my service, and my professors are very welcoming. I’ve also had people offer to buy me food using meal swipes when I’m on campus. We always get along with other programs when we have to work together.”


Reporter Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @emilydeletter.