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Air Force, University of Chicago celebrate AFROTC detachment activation

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Crystal A. Jenkins
  • Air University Public Affairs

The U.S. Air Force and the University of Chicago officially activated Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment 195 at the university during a ceremony Oct. 13.

University of Chicago officials hosted the Honorable Alex Wagner, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, other Department of the Air Force senior leaders and several community leaders from across Illinois as the university welcomed the newest addition to its Military Science Department.

“UChicago's transformative undergraduate education prepares students for high-impact careers across sectors, working on the issues that are most important to them and to society,” said Katherine Baicker, provost at the University of Chicago. “We are proud to support our veteran students and those aspiring to lead within the military and are thankful to the Air Force for the opportunity to help these students pursue their dreams of scholarship and service through ROTC.”

More than 50 cadets representing the detachment participated in the activation ceremony, as Wagner and university officials took to the stage to officially signify the partnership between AFROTC and the University of Chicago, emphasizing the mutual benefits for both the educational institution and the U.S. Air Force.

“I’m thrilled to be in Hyde Park today to celebrate a new home for the cadets of Detachment 195 and recognize the commitment of the University of Chicago’s leadership in the program’s continued success,” said Wagner. “Partnerships like these are critical to developing the next generation of America’s Air Force and Space Force leaders, and the University of Chicago’s strong investment in the detachment helps the entire Chicagoland area better connect with and understand our nation’s military.”

Additionally, Kevin Barszcz, city of Chicago’s Veterans Affairs director, presented a proclamation on behalf of the mayor, declaring Oct. 13 as Air Force ROTC Day in the city.  The proclamation highlighted the relationship between the Department of the Air Force and the University of Chicago as they create Air Force and Space Force leaders of character for the future.

“Det 195 seniors are graduating into a broad range of majors and will continue to hone their expertise in equally diverse and challenging career fields.” Wagner continued. “Their skills will allow them to operate the Air Force and Space Force’s cutting-edge platforms, but even more importantly, they will familiarize themselves with the rapidly evolving technology to help insure military readiness that deters aggression and strengthens America’s abilities to win future conflicts.” 

The transfer of the detachment, which was originally located at the Illinois Institute of Technology, was established in 1951 in the city and transferred to the University of Chicago in May of 2023. This detachment remains the only AFROTC program in the greater-Chicago area. The university and detachment currently maintain 15 active enrollment agreements with cross-town universities.

AFROTC is the largest and oldest source of commissioned officers for the Department of the Air Force. It comprises of 145 detachments, with more than 1,100 cross-town universities, four regional commands and a higher headquarters staff, located at the Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development at Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

The ceremony concluded with a show of airpower with a flyover of a KC-135 “Stratotanker” from Grissom Joint Air Reserve Base, Indiana, to honor Detachment 195’s activation.