Since 1892, Army ROTC—the Cougar Battalion—has continuously been a key part of what is now Washington State University.
The Department of Military Science was one of the eight original departments at the Washington Agricultural College. Military science courses were required for all male students as part of the Morrill Land Grant Act until 1976, when an all-volunteer military was established. An estimated 10,000 students have participated as cadets and WSU ROTC has produced over 7,000 lieutenants for the US Army.
Notable Cougar Battalion moments, leaders, and cadets
January 13, 1892: The doors open at Washington State Agricultural College and School of Science (WAC), with military studies as one of the first programs. WAC starts issuing $15.00 woolen cadet uniforms. Many of these uniforms are lost in the Old Ferry Hall Fire.
1893: First formation of the military marching band.
March 10, 1893: Pullman Military College burns to the ground. WAC begins transferring many of the 114 displaced cadets to the college.
August 1900: WAC has one of the original 42 ROTC programs in the country.
1908: Lt. Edmund L. Gruber composed the “Caisson Song,” later known as “the Army goes rolling along.” It was dedicated on Veterans Day in 1956 by the Secretary of the Army.
April 1918: Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.) was formed on Pullman campus along with 156 colleges and universities. The program ended with the war and produced no commissioned officers. Many of the WSC students within the program entered into the enlisted ranks of the active duty.
October 1918: WSC is hit with Spanish Flu which stops classes (over 800 students infected) and multiple buildings on campus are converted into hospitals. Sadly the illness killed more than 40 Army cadets on campus.
June 10, 1948: Captain Clayton H. Mickelson (’39 DVM) wins the Distinguished Service Cross for Heroism as an Army veterinarian. Captain Mickelson is 1 of 12 veterinarians who were in various units during World War II and were later POWs during the Japanese occupation. Mickelson died as a POW on February 4, 1945.
November 11, 1993: The WSU Veterans Memorial is dedicated on Veterans Day, honoring all alumni, faculty, and staff who died during nineteenth and twentieth century conflicts.
1993-2006: The Cougar Cannon. After every touchdown and Cougar win, the WSU ROTC department fires a blank round from a “Pack-75” 75mm Towed Howitzer (the cannon did return for the 2010 and 2011 seasons).
January 1994: WSU Army ROTC earns No. 1 national ranking.
May 5, 2017: WSU Cadet Samantha McNicholas ranked number 6 out of 5,404 commissioning cadets. She also made top ten on the WSU Dean’s list.
2021: Brianna Kostecka – Along with cadets Lucas LeMaster and Thomas Schuett (see “Army Strong”), Brianna Kostecka received her commission as a US Army lieutenant from WSU in the fall of 2021 (though her ceremony occurred later in February 2022). She was an Airborne class honor graduate in 2021. Here is a little more about her as found on an 8th Brigade Army ROTC Facebook post.