The ROTC celebrated its 40th anniversary on Thursday, Dec. 1, with a ceremony in the Memorial Health gymnasium.

The program has been awarded the MacArthur Award, which is given to the best ROTC program in the nation, five times during its 40-years. APSU has commissioned approximately 650 officers into the active-duty force, National Guard or Reserves.

Second Lt. Patrick Smith, the most recent commissioned officer to graduate from APSU, said the ROTC program was synonymous with “excellence” and that excellence is “expected at every level” of the program.

Col. Paul Bontrager, commander of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Campbell and 1987 graduate of APSU, was the keynote speaker.

Bontrager commended APSU for establishing ROTC in 1971, a time when the military was socially and politically unpopular due to the Vietnam War.

“APSU embraced its responsibility of training leaders,” Bontrager said, adding that APSU ROTC and its cadets are “all that is well and good with America.”

Bontrager, who will soon deploy to Afghanistan for the third time, addressed the cadets directly, cautioning that they “must be ready for a hybrid threat” and will be asked “to do more with less.”

Notable graduates of the program include retired Brig. Gen. Remo Butler, a 1974 graduate and only black special forces commander to date, and 2nd Lt. Richard Torres who was killed by an IED leading a platoon in Baghdad in October 2003. TAS