Clemson College was founded in November 1889 as a result of a bequest of land to the state by Thomas Green Clemson. The college began full-time operations in June 1893 as Clemson Agricultural and Mechanical College and graduated its first class in December 1896. Clemson was originally a military school, reflecting the belief at the time that a military atmosphere produced the highest academic excellence. In 1916, ROTC was first instituted at the college under the National Defense Act, which established ROTC in many land grant colleges across the nation. During World War I, there were 154 Clemson men in the service, and 19 gave their lives. There were more than 6,500 Clemson men in World War II, 90 percent of whom were officers commissioned as a result of ROTC training at Clemson. Of these men, 35 gave their lives.
Detachment 770 has proven itself year after year as one of the nation’s
top medium-size AFROTC detachments in both the Southeast region and in
South Carolina as noted by several prestigious awards: Right of Line,
High Flight and Best in State. Furthermore, Detachment 770 is
nationally recognized for its dedication to generating quality leaders
for the U.S. Air Force. On average we commission 16-20 second
lieutenants, and more than 80 percent who apply for rated (pilot, Navigator)
receive rated positions. Clemson AFROTC has a very rich military heritage dating back to WW1.
With the National Security Act of 1947 establishing the Department of the Air Force, Clemson’s Air Force ROTC Detachment was first created, beginning a long tradition of producing the finest officers for the world’s greatest Air Force. In 1955, concurrent with the acceptance of women into Clemson College, Clemson's Cadet Corps was abolished and Clemson became a civilian school. Although the Cadet Corps was abolished, participation in at least the first two years of ROTC was still compulsory for all male students. In 1964, in recognition of expanded offerings of the institution, the name of the institution was changed to Clemson University. By 1968, the ROTC requirement for underclassmen was abolished, stemming a decrease in Detachment 770’s size. In 1979, the detachment was reorganized. Today, it is subordinate to the Air Force ROTC Southeast Region. Air Force ROTC is an integral part of campus life at Clemson University, stemming from Clemson's early history as a land-grant, military college. Clemson University has a proud military tradition that dates back 117 years, with more than 10,000 Clemson alumni who have served in the Armed Forces. To date, 473 alumni have been killed from WWI through the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Learn more about Clemson's military heritage:
Military Heritage Plaza
Military Heritage Plaque