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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Texas A&M pitcher Chris Cortez (10) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Oregon at the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
One step away
June 8, 2024

Milestones: Tracing the Corps of Cadets’ history

Photo by Cassie Stricker
Corps Arches

1862 – During the Civil War, President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, laying the groundwork for states to establish land-grant colleges using funding from federal land sales.
1866 – Having rejoined the Union the year before, the State of Texas approves plans to establish its own college under the Morrill Act’s terms.
1876 – The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas officially opened with 40 students and six faculty members. The all-white, all-male student body was required to participate in military training. Maj. Robert P.W. Morris, a professor of applied mathematics, was in charge of military discipline and has since been credited as the Corps of Cadets’ first commandant.
June 26, 1886 – Muster originated on this day when alumni gathered to “live over again their college days, the victories and defeats won and lost upon the drill field and in the classroom.” The tradition was held on various dates until it merged with San Jacinto Day celebrations on April 21, 1903.
1887 – The Scott Volunteers were created this year. They became the Ross Volunteers in 1898 in honor of former Texas Governor and A&M President Lawrence Sullivan Ross. The special unit is the second oldest student organization in Texas, only after the Corps itself.
1887 – The first Corps Trip took place, with the cadets traveling to Dallas for the Texas State Fair.
1894 – The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band was founded and led by A&M’s first bandmaster, Joseph Holick.
1898 – The Spanish-American War occurred. At least 89 Aggies fought in the war, 63 of whom served as officers.
1898 – The first Silver Taps was held in honor of Lawrence Sullivan Ross in front of Old Main, the predecessor to A&M’s Academic Building.
1903 – The annual March to the Brazos was started to celebrate San Jacinto Day, April 21. Abandoned after 1912, the tradition was restarted in 1977 as a spring fundraiser for the March of Dimes.
1907 – Yell Leaders were introduced when upperclassmen ordered freshmen to entertain their dates during a football game. Freshmen wore white janitor coveralls and coordinated yells. After being well-received, the role of Yell Leader was given to upperclassmen.
1913 – Yell Practice became an after-dinner ritual. However, the first Midnight Yell didn’t occur until 1931.
1914 – Seniors began wearing tall, brown boots to differentiate themselves from underclassmen. The boots became an official part of a senior cadet’s uniform by 1925. Joseph Holick, A&M’s first Aggie bandmaster, was also known for making senior boots locally at his shop — Holick Manufacturing Company — which continues to serve members of the Corps today.
1916 – The National Defense Act of 1916 created Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in universities and colleges, although implementation of the program was delayed by World War I.
1917 – The U.S. joined WWI. Almost 50 percent of all Aggies that graduated during the war participated as soldiers, a larger percent of serving graduates than any other university in the country.
Jan. 22, 1922 – The tradition of the 12th Man originated when E. King Gill was called down from the stands to serve as a substitute on the A&M football team.
Jan. 1931 – Reveille I became the college mascot.
Dec. 7, 1941 – The U.S. entered WWII.
1942 – More than 20,229 former cadets from A&M fought in World War II. There were 14,123 commissioned Aggies in the war — more than the number of commissioned officers from United States Naval Academy and the United States Military Academy combined.
1943 – The Corps of Cadets was featured in “We’ve Never Been Licked,” a World War II propaganda film that was partially shot on location at A&M.
1947 – The Fish Drill Team was created. According to Lisa Kalmus, museum curator at the Sam Houston Sanders Corps of Cadets Center, freshmen were moved off-campus in efforts to minimize hazing. To avoid placing freshmen with upperclassmen, many of whom were World War II veterans, freshmen lived at the retired Bryan Air Force base 12 miles from campus, Kalmus said. In their boredom, freshmen began the Fish Drill Team.
Jun 25, 1950 – The Korean War begins. In the conflict, 1,900 Aggies served, 58 of whom lost their lives.
Nov 1, 1955 – The Vietnam War begins. During this conflict, over 3,985 Aggies served and 161 died.
1960 – The Army insignia on cadet uniforms was traded in for Corps Brass. Designed by cadets, it includes the Latin phrase “Per Unitatem Vis,” which translates to “Through Unity, Strength.”
1964 – Five black freshmen join the Corps, becoming A&M’s first African-American cadets. The year before, three students became the first African-Americans to enroll at the school, and the Board of Directors had started permitting women to enroll on a limited basis.
1965 – The Corps of Cadets was officially made voluntary for students.
1968 – Hector Gutierrez Jr. became the first hispanic Corps Commander.
1969 – William J. Mahomes became the first African-American senior cadet to complete four years and graduate in the Corps.
1970 – Edward A. Taylor became the first African-American chief officer in the Corps as Commanding Officer of First Battalion Staff.
1971 – Edward W. Williams and Derron J. Patterson became first African-American members of the Ross Volunteers.
1973 – Parsons Mounted Cavalry was created by the Class of 1974, reviving the tradition of A&M’s cavalry from the 1920s and 1930s. The unit was named after Col. Thomas R. Parsons, the commandant at the time.
1974 – Women were allowed into the Corps. Fifty-one women joined the all-female outfit W-1.
1975 – The Women’s Drill Team was created as an alternate for participation in other cadet organizations.
1978 – Women in the Corps expanded to a second outfit, Squadron 14.
1985 – Three female fish — Jennifer Peeler, Carol Rockwell and Andrea Abat — became the first female Aggie Band members after a court order required A&M to admit women into previously all-male Corps organizations. Only Abat made it through the year.
1989 – Andrea Abat became the first female senior in Aggie Band to complete four years.
1990 – W-1 and Squadron 14 were disbanded and women were put into co-ed units G-1 and Squadron 9.
Aug 2, 1990 – The First Gulf War began. Over 300 Aggies served, and three Aggies died.
1992 – The Fish Drill Team portrayed the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon in the opening scene of “A Few Good Men.”
2012 – The first African-American Commander, Marquis Alexander, was selected.
2015 – The first female Corps Commander, Alyssa Marie Michalke, was selected.
Nov 13, 2018 – The Army announced plans to adopt the “Army Greens” uniform, which resembles the kind worn by World War II-era officers and is similar to the Corps’ Class A uniform. The mandatory wear date for all soldiers is 2028.

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