Santa Clara ROTC Alumni Memories

ROTC Memories: ROTC alums share their memories of the program.

This fall, we invited ROTC alums to submit their answers to the following questions. Click a question to see their responses.






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Why did you choose to join ROTC?

The first two years were mandatory when I attended SCU. The senior division was quite competitive. I was patriotic. I felt I was a citizen soldier in the mold of our Founding Fathers. I believed that only through ROTC and later service would I ever experience anything that came close to true leadership and the humility command brings to the officer.

Joseph DiLeonardo '65

The $27 per month we got was a big incentive and a commission as a 2nd lieutenant during a time we were going to have to serve was also an incentive.

Curtis Cole '55

The first two years were mandatory. I signed up for the additional two years to avoid being drafted and sent to Korea.

William Hartung '54

Initially it was a great adventure participating in rock climbing/rappelling and military operations; studying military history; learning about leadership; camaraderie. Later I got involved in the flight program and learned how to fly over at Reid Hillview; then I earned a two-year scholarship and became part of the cadet staff.

Richard Ostermann '76

1. I'd rather be an officer than an enlisted draftee. 2. I enjoyed the classes and field activities. 3. I thought I'd be able to see more of the world than just California.

Dave Rigney '63

My father had one request: participate in ROTC for at least two years, then choose to continue on if I so desired.

George Berrettoni '72

It was required in my first 2 years. Then I volunteered so that I could finish my studies and be an officer rather than a draftee.

Richard Wood, '54, J.D. '59

I attended Santa Clara on an ROTC 4-year scholarship. My father had been commissioned through Santa Clara ROTC in 1941, and my brother Bill had been commissioned through Santa Clara ROTC in 1965. Santa Clara ROTC is in the Eichenberg family genes. Three generations of Eichenbergs have pinned on their gold bars in the Mission Garden.

Tom Eichenberg '76

I wanted to combine Army officer training with my college education, and subsequently qualified for a two-year ROTC scholarship, which helped pay for my education. As a result, I spent four years on active duty and obtained some of the best leadership training and overall job responsibility for a young man that I could imagine.

David Coppom '70

There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to be a soldier. I chose SCU because of the small ROTC program.

Thomas Robinson '79

In those days, the draft was active, there were periodic wars, and it was better to be an officer. Being an electrical engineering student, I could have received a deferment if I worked at a defense-related company, but I considered that too confining in terms of my longer-term career plans. So I stayed in ROTC and became an officer in the Army Signal Corp.

Robert Peters '61

It was mandatory when I first enrolled at Santa Clara. I dropped out after freshman year, but when I received my draft notice in November of my sophomore year, I immediately rejoined hoping to avoid Viet Nam. ROTC was a great experience, and I would not trade my active duty experiences for anything. I eventually went to Viet Nam anyway, but by that time I was a 23-year-old captain and I had the best job of my career--operations officer at the Port of Da Nang.

Rick Enos '68

I always had an interest in joining the military since I was a young boy. I wanted to take on the challenge of leadership as well as having the opportunity to serve my country. The fact that I was able to obtain a scholarship helped tremendously.

Michael McNellis '82

I never thought otherwise. The draft was on, and it meant going in the military as a slick arm private or as a 2nd lieutenant. Besides, my dad had many years in the Army as a reservist and active in WWII, and it looked like a good thing to do.

Rich Scholz '54

To help ensure completion of college without a break (draft was in effect at that time).

Bill Brunkow '54

In 1960, when I first got to Santa Clara, ROTC was required for two years. There was no choice.

Dan Fitzgerald '64

HI all! I wrote a short essay that answers these questions and will paste it into the next column. Please feel free to edit or contact me if you have questions or want to discuss my submittal. Thanks!

Craig Elkins '78

Even though it was mandatory for the first two years, I likely would have opted for it anyway, as I believe everyone should give at least a year in public service. I felt the military would be a good beginning before starting a business career after college.

Al Girolami '61

I was always interested in a military career and, combined with engineering, it was a good fit. Really had no choice of branches, as Army was the only ROTC choice, but combined with the Corps of Engineers it was a perfect fit.

Wain Stowe '60

First of all, it was required participation for all male students; second, at a time when the draft was mandatory and the Vietnam war was at its peak, it seemed a lot smarter to enter the military as an officer vs. a draftee.

David Ward '70

I joined out of a sense of service to country and others.

Steve McLaughlin '94

I joined my sophomore year, 1973, after meeting some of the other cadets, participating in their classes and activities, and being heavily recruited by the ROTC Cadre. I was impressed with the ROTC program, activities, and especially the folks involved at Santa Clara. Once I graduated, I wanted to become an officer and serve my country.

Mike O'Hara '76

It was the fall of 1971 when I entered the program.

Chris Parker '75

Two reasons stand out: 1. A way to avoid being drafted. 2. I was poor and the monthly stipend helped get me through school. My memory is that almost everyone in my class joined ROTC.

David T Van Etten '55

Winter 2012

See all articles from this issue


My fight, my faith

As secretary of defense in an age of budget austerity, Leon Panetta '60, J.D. '63 has to make sure the Pentagon doesn't break the bank and that the nation doesn't break faith with the men and women who serve.

Bronco Battalion

What does it mean for a Jesuit university to be home to the Reserve Officers' Training Corps? Seventy-five years after ROTC came to Santa Clara—and 150 years after officers were first trained on campus—a few answers are clear.

Mission Matters

Going global

A $2 million grant creates a year-long fellowship program—with students taking part in a global network of socially conscious businesses.

Bribes, bombs, and outright lies

Legendary lawyer Clarence Darrow comes to campus—and shows that ethical issues raised in the Trial of the Century remain as vexing today as they did when spittoons lined the courthouse floor.

Alumni Arts

Let me lay it on you

Hot Tuna is back with their first studio recording in 20 years.