After Americas entry into World War I in 1917, the United States Army began supporting Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) units on college campuses throughout the nation, Carolina among them. The first military training since the Civil War was short lived, as the end of the war in 1918 reduced the number of Officers needed. The program closed in 1921.
Army ROTC was reestablished at Carolina during the 1980 school year, commissioning twenty Second Lieutenants a year later. In August 1983, Francis Marion University was added to the Gamecock Battalion as an extension school. Shortly thereafter, the Battalion gained Morris College, in August 1985, and Benedict College in August 1986. This growth resulted in an enrollment of nearly 450 Cadets across the five campuses. Coastal Carolina University, the newest member of the Battalion, joined in 2008.
Today, the Gamecock Battalion is organized into four companies. Two companies comprised of students at the University of South Carolina, Morris College, Benedict College, and Allen College train at USC. The Patriot Company and the Chanticleer Company train at Francis Marion University and Coastal Carolina University, respectively. The Gamecock Battalion trains together multiple times a year at nearby Fort Jackson.
While the Gamecock Battalion has commissioned numerous fine Officers, two stand out. Lieutenant General James M. Richardson, a member of the first commissioning class in 1982, and Major Edward Murphy, class of 1991, who is the only Army ROTC graduate to be killed in combat to date. Major Murphy lost his life in April 2005 when the CH-47 helicopter he was riding in crashed in Ghazni, Afghanistan. The Battalion presents a yearly award in his honor recognizing the Cadet best exhibiting Major Murphy’s qualities of selfless service and dedication.