History of Air Force ROTC
1903 - Military Program first established on campus
1906 - College of St. Thomas officially declared a military school by the U.S. War Department Video
1914 - The Armory opens
1915 - College of St. Thomas and St. Thomas Military Academy separate
1918 - Students’ Army Training Corps unit established
1920’s - Hard Times - In the years following World War I, college-based military programs fell from favor nationally as well as at St. Thomas. In 1922, military training became optional at the college level and within three years only 15 students participated. Once known widely for it smartly uniformed cadets, St. Thomas was now in search of a new identity.
1922 - Military training becomes optional
1924 - The motion picture, "A Day at St. Thomas," was filmed on campus during the spring of 1924. This promotional film was shown at locations across the Midwest to encourage enrollment Video
1940’s - Shot to pieces - "The war has shot the college to pieces," said Father James Moynihan in 1943, his second-to-last year as St. Thomas' president. With so many students now serving in the war effort, the college's enrollment plunged to fewer than 100. The campus remained open in large measure thanks to a naval contract that brought more than 700 cadets to campus for the V-12 officer-training program. Shortly after America was swept into war in late 1941, the campus newspaper carried a feature, "With the Tommies in Arms," with news of the more than 5,000 students and former students who served during World War II. Father Vincent Flynn, who in 1944 became the first alumnus to serve as president, successfully guided St. Thomas through a decade of tumultuous change during and after World War II. "War Vets Jam St. Thomas Campus" read a 1946 newspaper headline. Thanks in part to the G.I. Bill, enrollment topped 2,200. To accommodate the surge, the college acquired 26 government-surplus buildings, including 20 double-dwelling huts for married faculty and veterans. "Tom Town," as it was called, was located along Cleveland Avenue on the east side of campus. The Air Force ROTC program began on campus in 1948.
1942 - Navy V-5 Unit (a basic flight training program) established at St. Thomas
1943 - Navy V-12 Unit established at St. Thomas
1949 - President Truman Visits St. Thomas and is saluted by ROTC cadets
1954 - General Alfred Gruenther, the NATO supreme allied commander in Europe and a St. Thomas Military Academy alum, visited the campus on Gruenther Day
1960’s & 1965 - The high-school-level St. Thomas Academy moved to a new campus in the suburb of Mendota Heights in 1965. In 1968, the college would welcome undergraduates attending the new St. John Vianney Seminary, created when the archdiocese closed its Nazareth Hall Preparatory Seminary.