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1980s Brief History

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.  Manhattan College's AFROTC detachment, like several others around the country, was significantly impacted and interest in the program remained limited.  In 1983, only fourteen cadets were graduated and awarded commissions while two years later, the number dropped to eleven.  For the 1985-86 academic year, Manhattan's AFROTC detachment failed to achieve specific minimum enrollment standards and the unit was placed on probation.  Manhattan sustained its program by partnering with other area colleges and universities in the metropolitan area.  These "cross-town" agreements bolstered enrollment by bringing new and talented students to campus.  These diverse cadets strengthened their leadership skills and built camaraderie through various activities including dining in, dining out, parade marches and POW-MIA commemorations.  In the fall of 1989, the AFROTC cadet lounge was dedicated in memory of Captain Jonathan B. Bednarek, a Manhattan College magna cum laude graduate of the class of 1970, who was killed in Vietnam in May 1972 and whose body was finally returned home that year.  The Captain Jonathan B. Bednarek scholarship, also initiated, provides annual financial aid to a Manhattan College cadet who exhibits significant military and academic achievement.