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JU’s Naval ROTC Unit: An historical timeline

1926 – The U.S. Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Program is founded to provide “a broad base of citizens knowledgeable in the arts and sciences of Naval Warfare.” Six NROTC units are established, at the University of California at Berkeley, Georgia Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, University of Washington, and Harvard and Yale universities.

1943 – Seven Navy men are among the first graduating class of Jacksonville Junior College, the predecessor to JU.

1960 – JU’s first bid for an ROTC unit, a goal of then-JU President Franklyn Johnson, is declined in Washington; plans are scrapped for an armory off Dolphin Drive at the foot of the hill leading toward the St. Johns River. The land stays vacant until 1966, when handball courts are installed. They are razed in 2012.

1964-1971 – JU Board of Trustees and President Dr. Robert H. “Bob” Spiro Jr., a retired Admiral, work behind the scenes to lay the groundwork for creating Florida’s first Naval ROTC program at JU.

Sept. 6, 1966 –  Jacksonville Unlversity announces it will establish a center at Jacksonville Naval Air Station to provide expanded college educational services for area military personnel. JU faculty will teach the courses. Spiro says the opening is “another step in cementing the partnershlp which exists between the University, the Navy and the greater Jacksonville area.”

Sept. 1, 1971 – The first Jacksonville University NROTC class, consisting of 43 Midshipmen, begins training.

Sept. 23, 1971 – The first NROTC Unit in Florida is formally dedicated at JU, one of four Florida universities among 63 colleges and universities nationwide to offer NROTC training. The Unit’s first Commander is Capt. Maurice O. Muncie, who had served in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense. The guest of honor at the dedication ceremony is the Honorable James E. Johnson, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. The Jacksonville NROTC Unit is to commission Navy Ensigns and Marine Corps Second Lieutenants.

August 1972 – JU is the first NROTC unit to enroll female Midshipmen. Four women aspiring to be Navy officers –  Lucy Bruster, Cheri Mangham, Joanne Fletcher and Gayla Ambrose – are the first to be sworn in. They receive full scholarships, including tuition, fees and books; stipends of $100 a month for 40 months; and commissions as regular or reserve Ensigns in the Navy or Second Lieutenants in the Marines upon completion of the program.

September 1980 – Capt. Charles Cook takes over JU NROTC helm as new Commander.

August 1981 – 71 freshmen enter the program, the largest new NROTC class in the JU unit’s 10-year history. The new Midshipmen come from 19 states. Total enrollment of 181 is also the largest in the Unit’s history.

September 1982 – Midshipmen enrollment in JU’s NROTC Unit nears 200, one of largest in the country relative to overall student population.

Spring 1989 – Incoming Fall NROTC class stands at 75; high demand necessitates higher acceptance standards; seniors’ cumulative GPA stands at 3.2.

November 2001 – National Naval ROTC program celebrates 75th anniversary.

December 2002 – JU NROTC enrollment surpasses 242 Midshipmen and officer candidates.

Spring 2007 – Construction completed of on-site U.S. Marine Corps Obstacle Course; Unit takes part in annual Citadel Special Warfare Competition.

Jan. 31, 2008 – The JU NROTC program is the first nationally to unveil state-of-the-art Conning Officer Virtual Environment (COVE) and Sub Skills Net simulators at the Tillie K. Fowler NROTC Building. The new mariner simulators allow current and future naval officers at JU to learn and develop skills to navigate on open waters once their naval careers begin. Dr. Quinton White, then dean of the JU College of Arts and Sciences and now executive director of the JU Marine Science Research Institute, is integral in helping JU become the first of 59 NROTC units to obtain the Mariner Skills Simulators by securing federal funding.

February 2010 – JU NROTC establishes its first Twitter account, @JUNROTC, at http://twitter.com/JUNROTC.

July 7, 2010 – JU NROTC establishes its first Facebook account, at https://www.facebook.com/JUNROTC.

Fall 2010 – JU dedicates the Admiral Robert H. Spiro NROTC Training Center, which includes an obstacle course and new gazebo. Spiro also establishes an NROTC scholarship endowment for students exhibiting qualities of high character and academic ability.

Spring 2011 – Unit hosts and wins JU NROTC Regatta.

Sept. 9, 2011 – JU NROTC holds 40th anniversary Open House, Alumni Reception and Formal dinner.

December 2011 – Capt. Herbert M. Hadley, who commanded USS Halyburton and USS Philippine Sea, as well as Afloat Training Group–Mayport, Fla., assumes command of JU’s NROTC Unit. His awards include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medals, Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal and Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

October 2013 – JU seniors and NROTC Midshipmen Amanda Suter, an aviation management and flight operations major, and VonHayes Switzer, an engineering physics major, are voted Miss Dolphina and Big Man On Campus, respectively. Suter makes headlines by skydiving onto midfield just before the 2013 JU Homecoming football win over Davidson.

Spring 2014 – The JU NROTC program stands as one of largest in the country, having commissioned more than 1,250 Navy Ensigns and Marine Corps Second Lieutenants for service in a wide variety of warfare specialties including Surface Warfare, Submarine Warfare, Naval Aviation, Nuclear Power and the many Marine Corps Military Occupational Specialties (MOS’s).