Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets

Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets

Infobox University
name= Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets

image_size =
motto= Ut prosim (Latin)
mottoeng= That I may serve
tagline= Invent the Future
established= 1872
type= Public land-grant university
endowment= $ 524.7 million [cite web
title=2007 Annual Report
publisher = Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc.
faculty= 1,361
president= Charles W. Steger
provost= Mark G. McNamee
students= 29,898
undergrad= 23,041
postgrad= 6,857
city= flagicon|USA Blacksburg
state= Virginia
country= U.S.
campus= convert|2600|acre|sqmi|2 (10.52 km²) Town
nickname= Hokies
mascot= Hokie Bird
athletics= NCAA Division I, Atlantic Coast Conference, 21 varsity teams
website= []
colors= Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange color box|#660000 color box|#FF6600

The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets (VTCC) is the military component of the student body at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Cadets live together in dormitories, march to meals in formation, wear a distinctive uniform on campus, and receive an intensive military and leadership educational experience similar to that available at the United States service academies. The Corps of Cadets has existed from the founding of the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1872 to the present-day institution of Virginia Tech, which is designated a senior military college by federal law.


The Corps provides leadership training for all of its cadets. A cadet will have the opportunity to receive an academic minor in Leadership when they graduate through the Rice Center for Leader Development which is in the Pamplin School of Business. This is a unique endeavor in Senior Military Colleges.

While not mandatory for membership in the Corps, many members of the Cadet Corps also participate in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and become commissioned officers in the U.S. Military upon graduation. Around 80% of the corps' graduates choose to participate in ROTC and receive a commission in the military as officers after graduation. If a cadet is enrolled in an ROTC program at Virginia Tech, they must also be enrolled in the Corps of Cadets. However, a cadet does not have to be enrolled in an ROTC program in order to participate in the corps. There are a few exceptions made for active duty enlisted students participating in programs like the Army's Green to Gold program.

Women entered the VTCC in the Fall of 1973 and created a single unit called L Squadron. By 1979, women were integrated into the line companies, though they still lived separately from the males in their units. In 1991 that changed and the dorms became co-ed and women were allowed to live in the same unit area as their male counterparts. In 1987, the first female Regimental Commanding Officer (CO) was appointed. To date, the Corps has had 4 female Regimental Commanding Officers. Today the Corps is nearly 14% female and females hold a number of positions throughout the Corps.


Early years of the Corps

On October 1, 1872, Virginia Tech opened as the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (VAMC). All students were cadets organized into a battalion of two companies with an enrollment of 132. The Commandant of Cadets was General James H. Lane, formerly the youngest general in the Army of Northern Virginia, who was wounded three times in combat. He worked to provide both the best education and the best military training in the state for his cadets based on his experience in the Civil War, and as a student and teacher at VMI and UVA, and as a teacher at Florida State Seminary and North Carolina Military Institute.

General Lane is considered the father of the Corps. He wrote the first cadet regulations and began the tradition of academic and military excellence. In 1878, VAMC President Charles Minor wanted to do away with the strict military requirements. Lane opposed him and their disagreement became so heated that a faculty meeting ended with a fistfight between the two. Both left campus in the ensuing scandal, but the Corps remained.

The VAMC cadets made their first Corps trip in 1875 to Richmond to the dedication of the Lee Monument. Over the years, the Corps has made many trips. These trips were more frequent in the early years including the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York in 1901 and the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. In 1880, political mismanagement from Richmond contributed to enrollment dropping to just 78 cadets. But in the ensuing years, enrollment and educational opportunities were expanded. E Battery, manning four Civil War artillery pieces with upper classmen, existed between 1883 and 1907.

In 1896 VAMC, through an act of the Virginia Legislature, changed its name to the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute. The name was quickly abbreviated in common usage to VPI. Also that same year a tradition began that lasted nearly three-quarters of a century, the VPI-VMI annual football game in Roanoke. Known as the Military Classic of the South, the annual Corps trips and associated parades ended in 1970.

panish American War service

In 1898, with the outbreak of the Spanish American War, the VPI Corps of Cadets formally volunteered to the governor for combat service. This request was declined, but most of the VPI Cadet band and their director enlisted as the Band of the 2nd Virginia Infantry Regiment. Many alumni served in the Spanish American War and the Philippine Insurrection. One alumnus (A.M. Gaujot. Class of 1901) was awarded the Medal of Honor during the Philippine-American War and another cited for gallantry at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. The Gaujot brothers remain the only two brothers in American history to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in two separate wars.

The VPI Cadet Band had first been organized in 1892. Prior to that, as early as 1883, music was provided by the "Glade Cornet Band," an organization made up of townspeople. The summer of 1902 saw the VPI Cadet Band serve as part of the 70th Virginia Infantry during large-scale national military maneuvers held in Manassas, Virginia. The VPI Cadet Band has been referred to as the Highty-Tighties since 1921.

World War I

With the approach of World War I, the ROTC was established at Virginia Tech. In January 1917, Infantry ROTC was established followed shortly by Engineer and Coast Artillery. During the war, Virginia Tech became an army post. Cadets were inducted and became enlisted men of the Student Army Training Battalion and its Navy detachment. They wore Army and Navy uniforms during this period. Two Army training detachments of between 226 and 308 men each operated on campus.

CPT. J.W.G. Stephens (class of 1915), of the 26th Infantry, led the first American forces "over on top" in combat near Montdidier, France. Many alumni served with distinction with the 1st, 2nd, 29th, and 80th Divisions, all of which saw heavy combat. Note must be made of Major Lloyd W. Williams (class of 1907), US Marine Corps. One of the famous quotes of the war, used for years as a Marine standard, was attributed to him. "Retreat, Hell No!" was his reply to the French orders to retreat his company. His company held its ground, but he was killed in the action and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. In the air, alumni, even as World War I foreshadowed VPI's contribution to the Air Force, CPL Robert G. Eoff (class of 1918), French Foreign Legion, attached to the 157 French Fighter Squadron shot down the first of 6 enemy aircraft credited to Techmen. LT John R. Castleman (class of 1919) was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (USA) for heroism in completing an aerial reconnaissance in spite of the attack of 12 enemy aircraft, two of which he shot down.

VPI's contribution to the war effort during World War I included 2,297 men in uniform. These included 2,155 in the Army, 125 in the Navy, 19 in the Marine Corps, 6 in the Coast Guard, 1 in the British Army and 1 in the French Foreign Legion. One alumnus (Earle D. Gregory, Class of 1921) was awarded the Medal of Honor, seven the Distinguished Service Cross (USA), and one the Navy Cross. At least eight were awarded the Silver Star. Twenty-six died in service and another twenty-six were wounded. Based on this, VPI was designated as one of twelve 'Distinguished Colleges' by the War Department.

After World War I, veterans affected the Corps and VPI at large, both as new and returning cadets. In 1921, women were admitted to VPI as civilian students and attended classes as day students. The next year the Corps was reorganized into a regiment of two battalions. Two years later (1923) military service as a cadet was reduced from four years to two; however, after two years of the camaraderie of Corps life very few cadets chose to convert to civilian student status. During the national rail strike of 1923 the corps again volunteered to the Virginia Governor for active military service. They were not called upon.

A Third Battalion was added to the regiment by 1927. Rapid growth followed as Virginia Tech's reputation as both an outstanding academic and military institution grew. In 1939, a Fourth Battalion was added.

World War II years

During World War II, academic sessions and the Corps operated on a twelve-month cycle. The Corps had grown to a brigade of 2,650 cadets consisting of two regiments with a total of five battalions. The First Battalion was primarily Infantry ROTC. The Second Battalion was Engineer ROTC and the Third, Fourth and Fifth consisted of Cadet Batteries taking Coast Artillery ROTC. Because of the war, seniors were graduated and commissioned early. Juniors were on an accelerated schedule and brought on active duty. Finally, sophomores and freshmen over 18 were largely inducted into military service. The Corps soon numbered under 300 and was organized into a single battalion.

During the war, the Commandant of Cadets, in addition to the cadet battalion, supervised a unit of the Army Specialized Training Program and Army Specialized Training Reserve Program (ASTRP) (soldiers under 18 years of age) and a Navy pre-flight-training unit. These units included many former cadets, and adopted many of the traditions of the Corps, including the Honor Code and saluting the Rock. The young men of the ASRTP were actually uniformed in cadet gray. Once again VPI was largely an active duty military installation.

During World War II, 7,285 alumni served in uniform. The army had 5,941 men, the navy 1,095, 110 in the Marine Corps, 29 in the Merchant Marine, 23 in the Coast Guard, and one in the Royal Air Force. These included ten Brigadier Generals, five Major Generals, and one Rear Admiral. Three hundred twenty-three died, five were awarded the Medal of Honor, seven the Distinguished Service Cross, two the Navy Cross, at least 73 the Silver Star, and 94 the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Following World War II, returning veterans were not required to serve in the Corps and the great influx of veterans swelled the number of civilian students. Civilian students out-numbered cadets for the first time in 1946. That same year Air Force ROTC was introduced to Virginia Tech. Initially civilian-cadet relations were not good as most veterans were attending Virginia Tech for the first time. Thanks to the regimental commander, Cadet Robertson (class of 1949), a World War II Coast Guard veteran, greater understanding was promoted among his fellow veterans and the Corps continued to grow and flourish.

During the following years the Corps would expand again back to a regiment and eventually organize into four battalion-size units. The Cadet 1st Battalion was housed at Radford Army Arsenal for two years at "Rad-Tech." There, in World War II Army barracks, the cadets lived and took many of their classes. For unavailable classes, a fleet of buses brought them back to the main campus. As new dorms were completed the battalion returned to campus.

Korean War

During the Korean War, 1,867 corps alumni served, of whom 30 died in service, and one was awarded the Medal of Honor (Richard Shea, class of 1948). In 1952, the university employed a retired general as the Commandant of Cadets. This was a departure from policy since 1884, where the senior active duty military instructor functioned as commandant.

1950s, 1960s, and 1970s

In 1958, Virginia Tech became the first traditionally white southern college to graduate an African American, with the graduation of Cadet Charles Yates (class of 1958).

In a move to expand educational opportunities at Virginia Tech, the board of visitors made participation in the Corps completely voluntary starting in 1964. However the taking of ROTC continued to require Corps membership. The Vietnam War period saw unrest on campus outside the Corps ranks. In 1970 demonstrations were conducted with the aim of halting Corps drill. Cowgill and Williams Hall were occupied and over 100 students were arrested. Other incidents occurred including the suspected arson of an on-campus building. Civilian-cadet relations were at an all-time low. Throughout all of this, the Corps maintained discipline and high esprit.

The post-Vietnam years saw the Corps numbers decline and reorganization to a two-battalion sized regiment. In 1973, Virginia Tech was among the first Corps of Cadets in the nation to enroll women, assigning them to L Squadron. In 1975, the first female cadet was assigned to Band Company. In 1979, L Squadron was disbanded and female cadets were integrated into the line companies. In 1991, the Cadet dormitories became coed.

1980s and beyond

Naval ROTC was established in 1983. The cadet regiment expanded to a three-battalion structure in 1998. Today the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets is one of six senior military colleges outside the five federal military academies. Virginia Tech is one of only two universities in the nation that maintains a full time military environment within a larger civilian university; the other is Texas A&M, which also dubs its institution the Corps of Cadets.

The Corps at Virginia Tech has seen many turbulent years and weathered them all. Since the Spanish American War, the corps has provided officers to the U.S. military. Most recently, the War in Iraq has seen three alumni killed. The valor of Corps alumni is legendary, with seven Medal of Honor recipients, and eighteen recipients of the nation's second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross or Navy Cross. The Corps exemplifies in many ways the University motto, "Ut Prosim"--that I may serve.


The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets (VTCC) is a cadet-run organization modeled on an Army regiment structure. The cadet corps is supervised by a senior leadership staff who establish cadet regulations and enforce base line guidance for the running of the cadet corps. The day-to-day corps activities, however, are run by the cadets.

enior leadership

The senior leadership is provided by the Commandant of Cadets, who is appointed by Virginia Tech and is a paid faculty member. The Commandant is typically a retired Major General from either the Army or Air Force. Of note, the VTCC has never had a Commandant from the Navy or the Marine Corps.

The Commandant is assisted by three Deputy Commandants who oversee the cadet battalions and one Deputy Commandant for Leader Development. There is also an Assistant Commandant of Cadets for Recruiting and an Assistant Commandant for Alumni Development. The Commandant of Cadets is assisted by an Executive Officer, typically a recent civilian track corps graduate who assists in administrative matters and also serves as the Traveling Recruiter.

The Director of the Regimental Band is also a member of the Commandant's Staff and is normally appointed from the officer ranks of the Virginia Militia.

Cadet Regiment

The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets is organized on the level of an Army infantry regiment, with the following as the structure for the 2005-2006 Academic Year:Regimental Staff
* Regimental Commander (Cadet Colonel, 6 Gold Chevrons)
** Regimental Executive Officer (Cadet Lieutenant Colonel, 5 Gold Chevrons w/ Star underneath)
*** S-1 [Adjutant] (Cadet Major, 5 Gold Chevrons)
*** S-2 [Public Affairs] (Cadet Major)
*** S-3 [Operations and Planning] (Cadet Major)
*** S-4 [Supply and Finance] (Cadet Major)
*** S-5 [Academics] (Cadet Major)
*** Command Sergeant Major (Cadet Command Sergeant Major, 3 White Chevrons w/ 3 rockers and a diamond in the middle)Regimental Special Staff
* Honor Court Chief Justice (Cadet Major)
** Vice Chief of Ethics Training (Cadet Major)
* Executive Committee Chairman (Cadet Major)
* Inspector General (Cadet Major)
* Regimental Chaplain (Cadet Captain)
* Recruiting and Retention Officer (Cadet Captain)
* Medical Officer (Cadet Major)
* Information Systems Officer (Cadet Captain)
* Color Guard Commander (Cadet Command Color Sergeant, 2 White Chevrons w/ two rockers, a star and wreath underneath it in the center of the rank)
** Color Guard Member, Sophomore (Cadet Color Corporal, 2 Chevrons w/ a star underneath)
** Color Guard Member, Junior (Cadet Color Sergeant, 2 Chevrons w/ two rockers and a star in the center)
* Skipper Crew Commander (Cadet Artillery Sergeant, 2 Chevrons w/ two rockers and crossed cannons in the center)
** Skipper Crew Member, Sophomore (Cadet Artillery Corporal, 2 Chevrons w/ crossed cannons underneath)
** Skipper Crew Member, Junior (Cadet Artillery Sergeant)
* Ordinance Staff Commander (Cadet Ordinance Sergeant, 2 Chevrons with one rocker and an exploding grenade in the center)
** Ordinance Staff Member, Junior (Cadet Ordinance Sergeant)
** Ordinance Staff Member, Sophomore (Cadet Ordinance Corporal, 2 Chevrons with exploding grenade underneath)

Battalion staff
* Battalion Commander (Cadet Lieutenant Colonel)
** Battalion XO (Cadet Major)
*** S-1 [Adjutant] (Cadet Captain)
*** S-3 [Operations and Planning] (Cadet Captain)
*** S-5 [Academics] (Cadet Captain)
*** Battalion Sergeant Major (Cadet Sergeant Major, 3 Chevrons w/ 2 rockers and a diamond in the middle)

Company organization
* Company Commander (Cadet Major)
* Company Executive Officer (Cadet Captain, 4 Gold Chevrons)
** Company Scholastics (Cadet Second Lieutenant, 3 Gold Chevrons)
** Recruiting Sergeant (Cadet Sergeant, 1 Chevron and one rocker)
** Company Clerk (Cadet Corporal, 2 White Chevrons)
* Company First Sergeant (Cadet First Sergeant, 2 White Chevrons w/ 2 rockers and a diamond in the middle)
** Cadre Sergeant (Cadet Staff Sergeant)
* Platoon Commanders (Cadet First Lieutenant, 3 Gold Chevrons and a star)
** Platoon Sergeants (Cadet Sergeant First Class, 2 White Chevrons and 2 rockers)
*** Squad Leaders (Cadet Staff Sergeant)
**** Fire Team Leaders (Cadet Corporal)
***** Unassigned Sophomore (Cadet Private First Class)
***** Unassigned Junior (Cadet Corporal)
***** Unassigned Seniors (Cadet Staff Sergeant/Sergeant)
***** Freshman Cadets [Until the First Caldwell March] (New Cadet)
***** Freshman Cadets [Rest of the Year] (Cadet Private)
* Unassigned Fifth Year Seniors (Cadet Second Lieutenant) "Also known as "Skipper Cadets"

"Upperclass cadets who commit serious disciplinary actions may be demoted to Cadet Private and still maintain their class status. In the case of a senior, they wear Cadet Private shoulder insignia with a Cadet officer gold chin-strap"

The Freshman Cadet System

Freshman cadets are required to report to Virginia Tech a week before the start of classes to receive initial training known as New Cadet Week. During this week the new cadets are trained in drill with and without a weapon and also receive physical training to help prepare them for the rigors of leadership and the upcoming stresses of the academic year. The week ends on Saturday with a pass in review, where the new cadets parade under arms for their families and university staff, as well as a crowd of friends and fellow Virginia Tech students moving onto campus. The pass in review is intended to display the change in the new cadets and their acquisition of military knowledge and discipline. After this event, the new cadets are given approximately 36 hours of pass so they can stay overnight off-campus with their families. During this freshman pass, the returning upperclass who were not cadre move into their rooms in Upper Quad (Brodie Hall, Rasche Hall, and Monteith Hall).

Prior to the Freshman year of the Class of 2004, the old corps system was in effect where a Freshman had minimal privileges and spent the year earning acceptance into their designated company and the Corps. They were under the direct control of their Cadre (or Drill Instructors) for the entire year. Most Friday or Saturday nights were spent in physical training under the instruction of the upperclassmen or spent cleaning the company common areas and studying under the supervision of the Cadre. Throughout the year, they would gain acceptance from the different class above them at hall-mark events. Approximately 10 weeks into the Freshman year, they would experience "Turn Day". In this event, Freshman cadets, still referred to as "New Cadet" in title, would be woken up at 0530 by their upperclassmen on a Saturday morning and made to run a series of obstacles, exercises, and events that would test their physical and mental stamina. Throughout these events, the New Cadets would be guided and supervised by their upperclassmen, specifically the sophomores on this event. This would usually last until 1530 where the entire Corps would have a formation on the Upper Quad between their dormitories. At that point, each company would be dismissed to their respective hallways. Here the New Cadets would experience a company level initiation event, most commonly consisting of further PT and having to duck-walk with a black leather belt clamped in their mouth (The black belt was a symbol of the Upperclass cadets and a privilege denied the Freshman cadets.) Once this was completed, the Freshman cadets were promoted to the rank of "Cadet Private", told they had no longer New Cadets, or trainees, but had become members of the Corps and were "turned" to the Sophomore class. This meant they could now begin a social relationship with the Sophomores and were allowed to address them by their first name when not in a professional environment.

The next major hallmark came in February at the Ring Dance. At the Ring Dance is used to mark the receipt of a Virginia Tech class ring, a major moment of pride in a cadets career. It occurs during the Junior, or 3rd year. At ring dance, the freshmen cadets play pranks on the Junior class - usually involving the Junior cadets rooms. At the end of the ring dance, the freshman cadets are now turned to the Junior class.

The last major hallmark was the rite of initiation. This varied in practice and timeframe from company to company, but was completed before the senior class performed their last Pass in Review as cadets. At this point, the Freshman class officially becomes the Sophomore class and is turned to the former Senior class. The last class to experience this system was the Class of 2003.

After the introduction of the class of 2004, a new cadet training system was implemented. The new cadets officially begin Red Phase upon returning from pass at 1830 for their first study hours Sunday evening. A freshman cadet typically has eight-and-a-half hours of unstructured time during a weekday in which to attend classes, study, run errands, and workout. Red Phase, like the color red, is the most intense phase, and the new cadets continue to be trained by their cadre (juniors and seniors who were specifically trained to train the freshmen). They will be expected to learn topics from The Guidon, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets book of knowledge and will be quizzed on topics from the Guidon during "Freshmen Online", more commonly referred to as "onlines". Onlines are conducted Monday through Thursday and last for one-half hour. Onlines typically go away at the end of Red Phase. To delineate the phases, the cadets and cadre go on the Caldwell March, envisioned as the direct replacement for "Turn Day". The Caldwell March is named after the first student at Virginia Tech, William Addison Caldwell, and there is a statue of him by Brodie Hall on campus. William Addison walked convert|26|mi|km to be the first student at Virginia Tech, and to commemorate this historic walk, the Caldwell March was begun. The march is broken into two convert|13|mi|km|sing=on hikes, the first convert|13|mi|km are completed at the end of Red Phase, and Homer Hickam, whose life the movie October Sky is based upon, occasionally joins the cadets on this momentous hike. The hike begins at the Caldwell Homestead, which is still lived in today, and follows along parts of the Appalachian Trail, before ending at a park named after the Caldwell brothers. This usually takes place in October and the fall foliage adds to the spectacular views in marking the end of the arduous Red Phase. It is the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors' policy, that any freshmen or transfer cadets who leave the corps before the end of Red Phase (which is usually defined by the university's last day to drop classes in the fall semester and completion of the Caldwell March), must leave the university and begin again in the Spring (they do not have to re-apply).

White Phase begins after the Caldwell March in October and lasts until Military Weekend in February. At this point, the basic cadet training has been concluded, and Freshman cadets begin Cadet Leader School taught by the Commandant's Staff and upperclassman cadets. During the Thursday afternoon period reserved normally for the Corps of Cadets lab, Freshman are educated in leadership responsibilities and roleplay scenarios to learn solutions to different situations. Freshman cadets are evaluated during this time for their competence as Fire Team Leaders. Blue Phase normally terminates at the conclusion of the Second Caldwell March when the Freshman cadets are 'turned' to upperclassman status for the remainder of the year.

Cadet awards

Meritorious awards

* Regimental Presidential Service Ribbon
* Outstanding Recruiting Service Ribbon
* Presidential Inaugural Award Ribbon
* Regimental Cadre Ribbon
* Recruiting Service Ribbon

Academic ribbons

* Academic Excellence Ribbon (Gold Level) 3.75 - 4.0
* Academic Excellence Ribbon (Orange Level)3.4-3.74
* Academic Excellence Ribbon (Maroon Level)3.0-3.39

Organization ribbons

* Air Force Special Operations Preparatory Team (AFSOPT) Ribbon
* Arnold Air Society Ribbon
* Association of the United States Army Ribbon
* Color Guard Ribbon
* Gregory Guard Service Ribbon
* Ranger Company Service Ribbon
* Conrad Cavalry Service Ribbon
* Blue and Gold Society Membership Ribbon
* Surface Warfare Society Membership Ribbon
* Submarine Society Membership Ribbon
* Skipper Crew Service Ribbon
* Scabbard and Blade Membership Ribbon
* Sash and Saber Membership Ribbon
* Eagle Scout Association Ribbon
* Society of American Military Engineers Ribbon
* Tactical Applications Company Ribbon
* VTCC Athletics Ribbon

ee also

* Virginia Tech
* Highty Tighties
* Senior Military College


External links

* [ Official VTCC Home Page]
* [ Virginia Tech Naval ROTC]
* [ Virginia Tech Air Force ROTC]
* [ Virginia Tech Army ROTC]

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