Friday, April 9, 2010
THE NATIONAL SOCIETY OF PERSHING RIFLES RETURNS TO K-STATE
MANHATTAN -- After more than 30 years, the championship company of the National Society of Pershing Rifles has returned to Kansas State University.
Company G-7, as K-State's chapter is known, has 21 students dedicated to performing precise military drills with non-firing 1903 Springfield rifles. The honorary fraternity, which is open to all K-State students, develops leadership and an appreciation for military bearing and discipline. The majority of the company's current members are affiliated with K-State's Army and Air Force ROTC units.
"Several key K-State alumni have recently led an effort to re-establish the society's presence on campus," said Maj. Ryan Hofstra, assistant professor of military science and Company G-7's faculty adviser. "The society builds a commitment to service and brotherhood. Membership doesn't require a military commitment and our members aren't there to recruit -- they're there to practice and come together as one unit."
Over the recent spring break, a detachment of four Company G-7 pledges traveled to Florida State University to demonstrate their skills at the society's national convention. As a result, K-State's Company G-7 was officially reinstated March 19, Hofstra said.
The National Society of Pershing Rifles was started in 1894 by John J. Pershing, who was general of the Armies.
K-State's company G-7 has a history dating back to before World War II. Starting in 1931, male K-State students were required by law to enroll in ROTC. Company G-7 was established to give K-State's cadets additional leadership experience as well as provide an outlet to learn more about the military and to perform community service.
In that service role, Company G-7 has served as an honor guard to the remains of servicemen killed in World War II, in addition to escorting President Dwight D. Eisenhower upon his return to his home state of Kansas. Hofstra said that Company G-7 also was the first organization at K-State to integrate black students into their ranks, with the membership of Cadet Robert Thompson in 1949.
In 1969 Company G-7 brought home the Exhibition Drill National Championship.
"The Pershing Rifle Society strengthens the bond between soldier, airmen and civilian," Hofstra said. "All three groups have come back together with one goal: to bring the national championship back to K-State."
In the 1960s the law requiring ROTC enrollment was repealed and the corps' numbers declined. The Vietnam anti-war movement also had an impact. Because of low enrollment and lack of interest, K-State's company dissolved in the 1970s.
"The current members of Company G-7 have a strong bond with alumni of the Vietnam era. These alumni faced discrimination from the anti-war movement and still served with honor," Hofstra said. "Today's members have pledged to uphold those values as we fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. They've sworn to stand next to one another in brotherhood just as our alumni did in Vietnam."
Company G-7 practices at 6 p.m. Mondays at the National Guard Armory in Manhattan.
More information about The National Society of Pershing Rifles is available at http://pershingriflesociety.org.