Corps of Cadets
Specialty units & clubs
Norwich has maintained a kinship with its cavalry heritage through the years.
The University was first established to train officers for the artillery. It was not until 1909 that cavalry training and horsemanship was first conducted informally by Capt. Leslie A. I. Chapman, a professor of military science and tactics and the first cavalry officer assigned to Norwich by the War Department.
Informal training quickly developed into a cavalry troop. Under Chapman’s successor Capt. Frank Tompkins, cavalry training was instituted as a part of the military training program at Norwich and within the Corps of Cadets. By 1910, training in infantry and the Signal Corps (communications) were also part of the military training program.
The Corps of Cadets remained a cavalry unit from 1911 to 1950. On Sept. 2, 1950, due to the growing size of the Corps, Commandant of Cadets Col. Briard F. Johnson reorganized the Corps into the regular Army regiment. Norwich has remained true to the cavalry traditions, however. This link to the past can be seen in the crossed sabers worn on the Norwich gray and blue uniform tunics. The dress blue uniform that is worn by all Norwich cadets is similar in design to the uniform worn by cavalry officers in 1898.
The Norwich University Regimental Drill Team was established in 1937 under the name of Shock Platoon. The platoon was to be a group of cadets who were “highly efficient in personal appearance and soldierly bearing.” Admission to this crack platoon was on a competitive basis and each member was required to maintain the highest standards. For a short time, the platoon was called Escort Platoon and provided escorts to visiting teams and distinguished guests. Later, Shock Platoon would accompany the University Glee Club and orchestra on tours throughout New England for the benefit of citizens who enjoyed the “snap and color” of a military drill team.
Today, the high standards required of the original Shock Platoon are still maintained by the Norwich University Drill Team, and they continue to perform in parades, ceremonies and special events on campus and through New England. Drill Team members are required to learn numerous precision drill routines and provide support for special teams such as the Honor Guard, Saber Drill Team and Color Guard.
The talent of Drill Team is considered a showpiece of the nation’s oldest private military college. The team is a perennial powerhouse in U.S. college and university drill competitions.
The Regimental Color Guard, one of the duties of Drill Company, is comprised of eight standard bearers who carry the colors of the United States of America, the State of Vermont, the country’s four armed services, the Coast Guard and Norwich University. Two honor guards accompany the standard bearers.
Gov. Thomas B. Salmon recognized the Regimental Color Guard in 1975 as “The Official Color Guard of the State of Vermont.”
As the oldest collegiate band in the country, the Regimental Band carries on a long tradition of excellence musically, academically and militarily.
Music at Norwich has been a significant part of the curriculum since its founding in 1819. With the arrival of William W. Baylay, the first professor of instrumental music, in 1823, the Regimental Band became an all-brass band and an integral part of the daily life of cadets at Norwich.
Today, the band is a full instrumentation band—woodwinds, brass, and percussion—and it continues to perform in support of the Corps of Cadets at all formations, reviews and special parades. The Regimental Band has performed for the inauguration of several United States presidents, including Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as well as for parades and concerts throughout Vermont and New England.
Recruits may request assignment to the Regimental Band Company.
ROTC specialty training clubs
The Norwich Artillery Battery, part of the Army ROTC Battalion, fires muzzle-loaded Civil War era cannons and WWII era howitzers at sporting events, graduation, alumni homecoming, family weekend, military ceremonies and other special events.
The cannons fired during events include two James cannons, two Pack Howitzers, one Gattling gun, one Sir W.C. Armstrong and the Whitworth Salute Cannon. The oldest of our artillery pieces are the James Cannons. These cannons were made in 1850 at Ames Foundry in Chicopee, Mass. There are only two fully operational James Cannons left in the world from the original 46 that were made at the foundry. Norwich originally had four James Cannons; however, two of them were lost during Pickett’s Charge on Cemetery Ridge at the Battle of Gettysburg.
The Battery also fires two M1A1 75mm Pack Howitzers. The howitzers saw action in WWII during the Pacific Campaign and were used by units of the United States Marine Corps and Army Airborne. They were made in 1943 at Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Ill., and are called Pack Howitzers because they could be separated into several pieces and transported on pack mules.
Artillery Battery has special requirements for participation. Contact the Commandant’s Office at 802.485.2135 to find out if you are eligible.
The Mountain and Cold Weather Company (MCW) is one of the most exceptional organizations you’ll find in any Army ROTC unit in the country. The primary goal of this organization is to provide the Army with a select group of officers trained in how to survive in the mountains and in cold weather.
“Climb to conquer” was the motto of the MCW platoon founded in 1947 by Sgt. Leslie J. Hurley, a mountaineer and a member of the famed 10th Mountain Division during World War II. Hurley recognized the uniqueness of Norwich University’s location among mountains with severe winter temperatures as well as its mission to train cadets to be officers in the Army. Realizing the need for officers with experience in mountain warfare, Hurley and the Army started the MCW platoon at Norwich. Skills taught to these students included skiing, snowshoeing, wilderness survival, first aid, climbing and mountaineering, day and night land navigation and cold-weather injuries.
In 1960, Specialist 1st Class Don Jennings started the MCW Rescue Team. The mission of this organization was to provide Northern New England with a rescue service capable of conducting search and rescue operations at any time of year under any climatic condition. Rescue Team has provided this service on many occasions. Northern New England recognizes the MCW Rescue Team as the one to call when no one else can complete a rescue.
An important first was accomplished in the fall of 2000 with the certification of 45 company members as National Search and Rescue Association search and rescue technicians, second stage.
The Mountain Cold Weather Company trains three times a week. One day of training is company training designed to teach freshman and sophomores the basics of mountain and cold weather fighting. The other two days of training are devoted to platoon training in support of their missions.
Training culminates in an exercise held in January where members can practice what they have learned in a mountain and cold weather environment. Cadets conduct all the training with the advice of Army ROTC cadre. The MCW also conducts numerous rescue and special operations demonstrations throughout the year. Demonstration venues include Rook Week and Family Week. Cadets who complete this training can go into the Army knowing they possess skills few of their peers have.
MCW has special requirements for participation. Contact the Commandant’s Office at 802.485.2135 to find out if you are eligible.
Ranger training at Norwich University dates back to the late 1950s. This training develops leadership skills of selected cadets by requiring them to perform effectively as small unit leaders in a realistic tactical environment under demanding mental and physical conditions.
Ranger training today at Norwich has evolved into a company level organization. Held twice weekly, training includes dismounted patrolling, battle drills, weapons familiarization, and MOUT training. Exercises are held throughout the semester and include day and night missions and bivouacs. Physical training is also a large component of the Ranger program. Intense, organized PT is conducted three times weekly.
The culminating event of Ranger training, Cat Eye Weekend, occurs at the end of each year where candidates are able to apply, and are tested on, all the skills that they have learned throughout the year. At the completion of this rigorous event, candidates are awarded the coveted cat eyes, signifying membership in the Ranger Company. Ranger Company participation is open only to Army ROTC cadets.
In addition to weekly training in the Fall Semester, those who are at least second year cadets are afforded the opportunity to try out for the Ranger Challenge team. Ranger Challenge is a competition which pits a 12-person team against other Army ROTC teams from different schools in the region. The competition is held annually at Devens, Mass. and consists of several events testing Cadets’ land navigation skills, physical aptitude, technical knowledge, marksmanship, and endurance in several other physically and mentally demanding events.