Bronco Battalion History
WMU ROTC Program celebrated its 50 th Anniversary in the Fall of 2000. In 1948, Dr. Paul Sangren, President of the Western Michigan College of Education, and the Honorable Paul W. Shafer, Representative from Michigan , started negotiations to have an ROTC unit established. The request was honored, and the Bronco Battalion was established on 3 May 1950 . The first ROTC classes began in the Fall of 1950 with over 500 students enrolled.
The first Professor of Military Science was Colonel Curtis L. Varner, Quartermaster. Lieutenant Zoltan Krompecher, Military Intelligence, is the 24th PMS. The Military Science Department was placed under the School of Applied Arts and Sciences, then part of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. It is now a department of the Haworth College of Business.
The ROTC program started as a Quartermaster unit, and all graduates were commissioned as Quartermaster Officers. By 1954-55, the program had over 800 students and was converted from a Quartermaster to a General Military Science Program that could produce officers for all branches.
In 1952-53, Western's policy was that all male students must be enrolled in either general physical education or ROTC. Students who completed 2 years of ROTC were exempt from physical education requirements for graduation. Qualifications were stiff and stated that students must be no less than 14 years old.
By 1956, selection for the program was competitive with advanced courses selected by the PMS and the President of the College. Advanced course students were paid $27 per month and given a draft deferment. In 1957, the Battalion moved into Oakland Gym. In 2001 they moved to their current location on East Campus.
In 1965-66 there were major changes; flight training was offered during the Advanced Course; Basic Camp was created for students who had not participated during their first two years; subsistence allowance rose to $40; three-, two- and one-year scholarships were available to qualified cadets. Subsistence rose to $50 in 1968. In 1971, 4-year scholarships were available. In 1972, the allowance rose to $100 and again in 1995 to $150. In Oct 1999, it rose to $200. It changed again in 2001, they are now by levels.
In 1973-74, the program underwent major changes. The university no longer exempted ROTC students from physical education; they created a military fitness class instead. The draft ended and women were admitted into the program. In the midst of these changes, enrollment dropped to an all time low of 50.
During the late 70's and early 80's, the program increased enrollment topping out at 221. A new definition of enrollment for MS I's and II's saw enrollment fall back below 100 in 1983. In the mid 80's WMU began offering $1000 per year scholarship incentive to ROTC scholarship winners and began to attract ROTC scholarship winners. In 1995, WMU authorized a $2600 annual room and board incentive scholarship for four-year ROTC scholarship winners. In Oct 1999 WMU introduced an even more robust scholarship incentive program for ROTC scholarship winners.
Since its inception, ROTC has commissioned countless qualified and motivated graduates as Second Lieutenants in the United States Army. These officers have served and are presently serving proudly in a wide variety of responsible positions on active duty in the United States Army or in the Army Reserve and National Guard. The ROTC success story can be seen in these soldier citizens and citizen soldiers who serve their country proudly.