In 1862, Congress presented President Lincoln with the Federal Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, which he signed, granting land to establish the commonwealth of Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC) with the intent of providing agricultural, mechanical and military arts training to the residents of Massachusetts. In 1863, the 56 student “pioneer class” of 1887 entered and began learning military drill from one of the four professors making up MAC’s first academic staff. 1869 brought the addition of regulation drill, infantry skirmishing, saber use, bayonet, small arms and artillery to the curriculum. Soon after, the student officers organized an infantry battalion featuring the battalion review, which soon became a prominent feature of campus celebrations. Year-round instruction in military sciences continued and instruction during inclement weather took place in College Hall, one of the three buildings built for the “pioneer class.”
On 1 October 1918, MAC established the Corps, with 351 cadets. The end of World War I brought a post-war drawdown in force and the Corps disbanded. A total of 1,304 “Aggie Men” from the Corps served in WWI, 445 as commissioned officers. A table in Memorial Hall bears 51 names of those who gave their lives during WWI. The National Defense Act of 1920 separated Army ROTC into two branches: Army ROTC and Air ROTC. Twenty-six years later, Army Chief of Staff Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower signed General Order 124 which, in September 1946, established seventy-seven Air ROTC units under Air Training Command (ATC). Shortly after, Headquarters Army Air Forces transfered Air ROTC from ATC to the Air Defense Command (ADC).
The New Air Force
On 18 September 1947, the National Security Act of 1947 (NSA 1947) created the United States Air Force (USAF) as an independent branch of the US Armed Forces, naming Stuart Symington as the first Secretary of the Air Force and Gen Carl A. "Tooey" Spaatz as the first Chief of Staff of the Air Force. The creation of the USAF divided the University of Massachusetts ROTC program into the Department of Military Science for Army ROTC and the Department of Air Science for Air ROTC, beginning the Minuteman Detachment. In 1948, Air ROTC officially changed its name to Air Force ROTC (AFROTC) and in 1952, Air University gains command of AFROTC and moved to its current location at Maxwell AFB, AL. In the following years, senior cadets replaced permanent Air Force Instructors as the authority for drill published orders, promotion boards, recruitment and other planned social activities.
On 20 April 1972, students began a disruptive five-day student occupation of the Army ROTC detachment at Dickinson Hall. To prevent confrontation, the University requested that ROTC cancel all classes during the occupation. On 27 April 1972, the Faculty Senate voted to discontinue academic credit for all courses taught by the divisions of Military and Air Science on the Amherst campus. However, one year later, in 1973, the University restored academic credit to the Military and Air Science departments. Due to the sharp decrease in enrollment, the Military Science Department moved to the old security building, which ten years earlier housed the Corps’ tank regiment. Shortly after Army ROTC’s relocation, Air Force ROTC assumed its present location on the third floor of Dickinson Hall.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, University officials have continued their support of AFROTC and Detachment 370 has been actively recruiting new members willing to take on the challenges of joining the world's greatest Air and Space Force. With cross-town agreements with Western New England College, Smith College, Springfield College, Westfield State College, Springfield Technical Community College and Mt. Holyoke College, the detachment is looking for new members who want an exciting career in the Air Force, a career that will open doors to exciting opportunities in one of over 120 fields. If you're ready to join the over 800 graduates of the Minuteman Detachment who are serving or have proudly served in the US Air Force, contact us at 413-545-2437, or firstname.lastname@example.org.