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Historical Timeline

group of cadets posed in front of an airplane in 1952Not long after the Second World War, when depleted enrollments confronted the administration and forced emergency measures, the prospects of another war pressed upon the College. In 1950, the United States began providing military assistance to South Korea to push back an attack by the communist North Korean forces. As the Korean War escalated, a renewed uncertainty concerning military service gripped the campus. Substantial apprehension existed over a proposed military training bill in congress, The Universal Military Training and Service Act, which would once again completely disrupt the college population and virtually eliminate the incoming freshmen class.

In an effort to prepare for another potential mass exodus of students due to selective service regulations, the College secured a Reserve Officers Training Corps of the Air Force (AFROTC). On April 22, 1951, the AFROTC was formally established at Manhattan College and over 850 cadets filled the ranks of its first unit. They originally assembled in July 1951 and were designated Detachment No. 560, HQ & HQ Squadron, First Air Force, Manhattan College. Appointed to the post of Commanding Officer was Lt. Col. W. T. Welter, a man with fourteen years of experience in the Air Corps while second in command and pro tem Commanding Officer of the group was Major J. E. Murtha.

  • 1950s

    Photograph of 1950 Manhattan College students
    In early September 1951, drills were held on Barnard High School’s athletic field, currently Horace Mann School, on the hill behind the Manhattan College campus.  By mid-February 1952 mass drills were held in Croke Park, later renamed Gaelic Park, and by the beginning of March, these “Manhattan Men” began to look like Air Force Cadets. Read More >
  • 1960s

    Photograph of students holding their palm up for a swearing ceremony in the 1960s
    Throughout most of the 1960s, the Manhattan College Air Force ROTC Program continued to attract many students and to accomplish its primary objective of producing quality career officers.  In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the ROTC Vitalization Act which permitted the Air Force to award college scholarships. Read More >
  • 1970s

    Photograph of lady

    In the late 1960s and early 1970s, although the anti-war movement, the abolishment of the draft and the loss of mandatory military training led to declining enrollment, this was also the period when the AFROTC began to welcome female cadets.  Read More >

  • 1980s

    Photograph of 1980 Students
    Throughout the 1980s, despite ongoing Cold War conflicts, Congress reorganized the military budget and significantly cut back officer manning in all Services.  The Air Force reduced its numbers by decreasing officer acquisition. As a result, the number of cadets commissioned and scholarships awarded each year were curtailed. Read More >
  • 1990s

    Photograph of 1990 Veterans
    By the spring of 1991, when Manhattan College was celebrating the 40th anniversary of its AFROTC program, once again service training programs began to cut back recruitment, close units and release some students from military obligations.  The end of the Cold War, better relations with the Soviet Union and political and economic pressure to reduce military spending to limit the growth of the federal deficit led to the peace dividend of the 1990s. Read More >
  • 2000s

    Photograph of three individuals
    In the 2000s, the challenge of terrorism became an integral focus of military training programs. The events of 9/11 and engagement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan helped normalize sentiment towards soldiers and military leaders and helped recognize the important contributions of the armed forces around the world. Read More >