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Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) combines college courses in military science with extracurricular training sessions to develop students to become Army officers.

  • Committed Army ROTC students are commissioned as a second lieutenant (2LT) in the active Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard upon completion of the program and graduation.
  • Enrollment is not limited to students interested in being military officers. Anyone interested in fine-tuning his or her leadership ability may participate in the program during the freshman and sophomore years.
  • Learn more about Ripon’s Military Sciences program.

The Red Hawks Company at Ripon College has a long and highly distinguished history.

Today the Red Hawks Company is a member of the No. 1-ranked Fox Valley Battalion, which has its headquarters at nearby University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Other members of the Fox Valley Battalion include: Marian University, St. Norbert College, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

If you’re interested in joining Ripon’s ROTC program, we also encourage you to follow Ripon’s ROTC Instagram page and the Fox Valley Battalion’s Instagram page.

  • If I join ROTC, am I contracting/committing to serving in the Army?
    Being in ROTC and being in the military science class are not the same thing. Students within the military science class are just that – students. ROTC is when a student takes the next step and signs a contract agreeing to commission as an Army officer after graduating. While ROTC encompasses the military science classes, anyone can take the 100- and 200-level classes with no commitment to any military service.
  • How does ROTC benefit my college education if I am not contacting/committing to the Army?
    The military science courses are geared toward leadership that can be applied in a military or business setting. Students interested in improving their leadership abilities in addition to understanding how to work with others and problem-solve should consider the military science 100- and 200-level courses.
  • Do I need to provide my own ROTC materials?
    Everything you will need for class or lab will be provided by the school.
  • What is the homework commitment like?
    ROTC coursework is minimal compared to your standard classes. Freshman and sophomore students can expect little to no homework on a weekly basis. Most learning will be conducted through in-class practical exercises and group work.
  • What types of things can I learn in ROTC class?
    Each year within the military science curriculum focuses on different topics. MIL 151/152 gives students an introduction to Army rank/unit structure, squad-level tactics and leadership attributes. MIL 251/252 focuses on critical thinking and problem solving, and continues more deeply into leadership lessons. MIL 301, in order to prepare cadets for their Cadet Summer Training, focuses on platoon-level tactics and how to lead that element in various situations. Lastly, a cadet who has made it to the MIL 400/401 courses will shift their lessons to how to be a platoon leader. Students who have made it to their senior year will have completed all the major hurdles in ROTC and will begin learning lessons to apply to life as a commissioned officer.
  • Do I have to go to physical training (PT)?
    PT attendance is encouraged for building relationships with other students in military science, but only cadets who have committed to joining the Army after graduation are required to attend PT. Student-athletes whose sport is in season will not have to attend any PT sessions. Their regular team practices will take priority over ROTC training.
  • Where does class take place?
    Classes take place in West Hall while the location of labs can vary between West Hall, Willmore Center and the Ceresco Prairie Conservancy (located right behind Willmore Center).
  • What do you do in the lab?
    Lab lessons vary depending on the training plan, but generally students are taught a lesson in their weekly class and then put this lesson into practice as a group during lab. Most labs are conducted in the Ceresco Prairie behind Willmore Center which allows students to move in military formations through wooded/open areas and over various types of terrain.
  • What do summers look like?
    There are no summer obligations for regular students. Cadets who have completed their junior year will be sent to Fort Knox for 35 days where they receive essentially their “final exam” for ROTC. More information on Cadet Summer Training Advanced Camp can be found here.
  • If I am already in the military, can I still join ROTC?
    Any student currently serving in any military branch can take the military science courses. The possibility of commissioning as an Army officer for those students serving in a different branch varies on a case-by-case basis. Contact the Ripon ROTC instructor for guidance regarding your situation.
  • What are different or unique opportunities you get if you contract?
    Students who have contracted have the opportunity to attend highly sought-after schools such as Airborne, Air Assault, Mountaineering, Cold Weather Operations, plus many more. Cadets looking for leadership-focused schools can attend Cadet Leadership Development Course, Robin Sage, Sage Eagle and Cadet Field Training with the United State Military Academy.
  • Do you get paid?
    Students who have signed a contract agreeing to commission as an Army officer upon graduation receive $420 a month when school is in session. Scholarship cadets also receive a $600 book stipend per semester.
  • How do you get a scholarship?
    Scholarships can be obtained as a high school senior by visiting the S. Army websiteand following posted timelines and instructions.

    Freshmen and sophomores currently enrolled at Ripon can compete for two- or three-year scholarships. Scholarships cover full tuition and fees, and Ripon College covers the room and board fees for all ROTC scholarships. Interested applicants should contact the ROTC instructor for more details on required scholarship packet documentation.
  • Why choose Ripon ROTC over another school’s ROTC?
    Ripon’s ROTC program offers a variety of advantages over most ROTC programs across the nation.

    Ripon College supports all students exploring a military career and offers bonus incentives to students who earn ROTC scholarships. ROTC scholarships cover full tuition and fees while Ripon College will further cover a student’s room and board. Students who receive only a three-year scholarship (sophomore to senior years covered) will have their freshman year’s tuition and fees covered by the College as well.

    The Ceresco Prairie Conservancy is within walking distance from the student residence halls and offers a fantastic training landscape for cadets to truly immerse themselves into tactical training and land navigation.

    Physical training is conducted in Willmore Center. This $22 million facility allows Red Hawks cadets a variety of ways to increase their fitness levels. The weight room, pool, cardio studios and indoor track ensure students are able to get after their fitness goals year-round.

    Once a semester, military science students get the opportunity to travel to Fort McCoy, roughly two hours west of Ripon, to train with other students within the Fox Valley ROTC Battalion. Events conducted at Fort McCoy include weapons ranges, rappel towers, obstacle courses and land navigation courses.

The first year of ROTC is focused on introducing students to the program and military lifestyle, with increasing opportunities to participate in leadership roles over the following three years. Explore the Learning to Lead brochure for additional information.

Students who enter the program are not automatically bound by any sort of contract in the first year, and they are encouraged to participate as much as they’d like.

  • Get to know the structure and function of the Army and its units, both in the classroom and through opportunities to participate in field training and social activities
  • Learn basic military skills, such as marching, drill and tactical movements
  • Prepare for the Army Physical Fitness Test with early morning physical training, required three (non-contracted cadets) to five (contracted cadets) days a week.
  • Experience a hybrid of classroom lessons and hands-on lab sessions and field training

Explore the Learning to Lead brochure for additional information.

The second year begins the transition from introduction to the Army to building leadership abilities. Contracting, which is the first goal for any cadet wishing to commission, usually happens in the second half of this year.

  • Learn new skills in first aid, land navigation and military radio communications
  • Experience practical applications of leadership by leading physical training or obtaining a formal leadership role
  • Receive your contract, which means you are guaranteed to commission as an officer in the U.S. Army
  • Gain new opportunities for special training programs and challenges

Explore the Learning to Lead brochure for additional information.

All cadets in the third year have received a contract with the U.S. Army. They will continue to learn about the Army’s organization, management and mission while furthering their leadership abilities.

  • Participate more broadly with the Fox Valley Battalion
  • Begin using the Army’s standard operating procedures
  • Take on more active leadership roles in training activities at the company and battalion level
  • Lead a week of physical training or a lab session

Explore the Learning to Lead brochure for additional information.

The culmination of the ROTC experience is celebrated at the end of the year as cadets receive their commissions in a formal ceremony.

  • Complete a four-week Advanced Camp the summer before senior year
  • Apply leadership skills with opportunities to serve on the battalion staff or act as the company commander of the Ripon Red Hawks Company
  • Instruct weekly labs for other ROTC cadets

What is a typical week like for an ROTC Cadet?
By Jahaira Gonzalez

ROTC Cadet Jahaira GonzalezMondays: We start the week with physical training (PT) from 0600-0700. Athletes whose sport is in season are not required to attend the morning training sessions with ROTC. After PT concludes, all the ROTC cadets go to the Commons to eat breakfast together. The rest of the day is completely up to the student to decide what to do.

Tuesdays: No morning PT session, but many cadets are still in the gym at this time to keep a routine. Freshmen, juniors and seniors all have class at 0800. At 1130 juniors and seniors conduct their Company Training Meeting, where cadet leadership goes over the upcoming training schedule to ensure everything has been thoroughly planned. Lunch following the meeting is typically a group ROTC meal at the Commons. Sophomores conduct their military science class in the afternoon.

Wednesdays: Much like Mondays, there is a morning PT session and group breakfast. These are the only touchpoints for ROTC for the day.

Thursdays: We typically get breakfast as a group before our lab from 0800-1000. Labs vary in location and include hands-on activities that are put into practice.

Fridays: Begin with a morning PT session. Immediately afterward, the juniors and seniors have a virtual meeting with all the other upperclassmen across the Fox Valley Battalion (Marian University, UW-Oshkosh, Saint Norbert and UW-Green Bay) to discuss upcoming training. After this meeting, cadets do not have any ROTC obligations until Monday morning, though they often hang out together over the weekend.

Military science students can expect three hours of PT and three hours of class (two hours of lab plus one hour of class) a week. Upperclassmen in cadet leadership positions can expect two to four hours of extra work a week to ensure operations run smoothly for the Red Hawks Company.

Celebrated Generals from the Red Hawks Company

Brigadier General James H. Banville ‘23

Brigadier General James H. Banville ’23

Gen. James H. Banville’s military career began as a private in the 32nd Division, Wisconsin National Guard, in 1919. Prior to entering active military service, Gen. Banville was a science teacher at Ripon High School and served in various teaching and administrative positions. He entered active duty in October 1940, and his military service was spent primarily in the personnel and administration specialties. He held his highest position as chief, Personnel Division, The Adjutant General’s Officer, when he retired in June 1957.

Following his retirement, he joined the staff of Retired Officers Association as the secretary and then for several years headed the association as its executive vice president. Under his leadership, the membership of the association increased from 25,000 to 149,000.

Gen. Banville, a native of Ripon, Wisconsin, received his commission and his bachelor’s degree from Ripon College in 1923. He went on to obtain his master’s degree in administration from the University of Wisconsin in 1934 and is a graduate of the National War College. Gen. Banville died Oct. 20, 1981.

Major General Ralph J. Olsen ‘26

Major General Ralph J. Olsen ’26

Maj. Gen. Ralph J. Olsen started his military career as a second lieutenant in the Infantry in 1926 and quickly made his way up the ranks. He was ordered to active duty in 1942, first at Fort Knox, Kentucky, followed by the 3rd Armored Division at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and ultimately the 11th Armored Division when it was activated. He worked his way through the 11th Armored Division, up to assistant chief of staff, G-1, where he remained until it was deactivated after VE Day. He was honorably discharged as a colonel in 1945.

He resumed his private business and was appointed the adjutant general of Wisconsin in September 1950. He was federally recognized as brigadier general in October 1950 and major general in November 1955. Gen. Olsen was highly decorated, receiving the Bronze Star, American Campaign Medal; Eastern-Africa-Eastern Campaign Medal with three stars; World War II Victory Medal; Armed Forces Reserve Medal with two hour glasses; USSR Defense of the Fatherland Medal; USSR Medal of Valor; and Legion of Merit.

Gen. Olsen was born in Marinette, Wisconsin, in 1904. He graduated from Ripon College in 1926.

Brigadier General Harley S. Jones ‘26

Brigadier General Harley S. Jones ’26

Brig. Gen. Harley S. Jones’ military career began as a second lieutenant commissioned into the Infantry in 1926. He advanced through the ranks to brigadier general in 1954 and retired three years later. Although he started out as an Infantry officer, he joined the Army Air Corps in 1940.

Upon his retirement from the Air Force in 1957 after 31 years of service, Gen. Jones received the Distinguished Service Medal – the highest peacetime decoration – for his implementation of production techniques. Between 1940 and 1957 he worked for Boeing and played a prominent part in the production of the B-17, B-24, B-25, B-29, B-50, and B-47 bombers, the C-97 and C-119 cargo transports, the F-102 interceptor and the F-84F and F-105 fighter bombers, the Bomarc missile, and the Rolls Royce V-1650, Pratt and Whitney R-2800 and J-57 engines.

Gen. Jones was born in Fox Lake, Wisconsin, and graduated from Ripon College in 1926. He started his second retirement managing his family estate in Friday Harbor, Washington, with his wife, Jane (Shaw) ’26. He died in Seattle, Washington, Dec. 28, 1997.

Major General William G. Blakefield ‘39

Major General William G. Blakefield ’39

Maj. Gen. William G. Blakefield had a distinguished career in military service that spanned more than 35 years. He held a variety of infantry, teaching, advisory and leadership positions globally during his tenure. This includes time in the U.S., Europe and Asia, including Japan, Korea, Turkey, Germany and Washington. Gen. Blakefield was ultimately named deputy commanding general, First U.S. Army, in March 1973, later assuming command of the Army Readiness Region II in July 1973.

After retiring from the Army, he served as president of Kemper Military School in Boonville, Missouri, from 1976-1980. Gen. Blakefield was a native of Berlin, Wisconsin, and was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation from Ripon College as a biology major in 1939. He died in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Feb. 23, 1987.

Brigadier General James Norman Hall ‘41

Brigadier General James Norman Hall ’41

Brig. Gen. James Norman Hall assumed command of an Infantry Battalion and later an Ordnance Battalion as a lieutenant colonel in 1959 after serving in infantry units from 1947 through 1957. Serving in ordnance assignments for the next 15 years, he rose to the rank of brigadier general before retiring in 1974. Gen. Hall died in Huxley, Iowa, on May 30, 1995.

He graduated from Ripon College in 1941 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Officer Reserve Corps the same year. After serving on active duty from 1941 through 1945 as an infantry officer, Gen. Hall joined the Iowa Army National Guard.

Major General Jerry Bethke ‘57

Major General Jerry Bethke ’57

Maj. Gen. Jerry Bethke held a wide variety of command and staff assignments in military career of more than 30 years, including tours in Vietnam, Korea, Germany, Hawaii and Alaska. His last assignment prior to retirement in September 1989 was as deputy commanding general of the Second United States Army.

Gen. Bethke was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He graduated from Ripon College with a biology major. He was commissioned a second lieutenant through the ROTC program in 1957. His military schooling includes Airborne, Ranger and Air Assault Schools, the Basic and Advanced Infantry Officer Courses, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.

Major General Rudolph Ostovitch III ‘63

Major General Rudolph Ostovich III ’63

Maj. Gen. Rudolph Ostovich III retired from the U.S. Army in July 1993 after serving more than 30 years. His military career of leadership assignments throughout the country culminated in his final active-duty assignment at the Pentagon, where he served as the vice director of the Joint Staff.

Following his military career, Gen. Ostovich joined USAA as the regional senior vice president for property and casualty operations before retiring in 2001. Upon retiring from USAA, he founded and now serves as president of Ostovich Enterprises Inc., a management and consulting services company engaged in national and international activities.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Gen. Ostovich was commissioned a second lieutenant through the ROTC program at Ripon College where he earned a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in music. He later earned a Master of Science degree in foreign affairs from George Washington University, Washington, D.C.