Rattler Battalion History
In 1902, President Nathan B. Young appointed William H. A. Howard (pictured) as the first Commandant of Military Activities. The basis for this was the implementation of military training for the Florida Normal & Industrial College for Colored Students was the Morrell Act of 1890, which provided funding to land grant schools. It was not until 1948 that the senior division of the Florida A&M College Army ROTC unit was established, under the first Professor of Military Science and Tactics, Major Clarence M. Davenport Jr. The initial enrollment of 278 cadets quickly grew to a cadet corps in excess of 600 within the first decade. During the academic year of 1949-1950, the first twenty-one cadets were commissioned into the United States Army Reserve.
It was during the 1950s that cadets such as Fredrick Humphries, Eugene Cromartie, Leroy Bell and many others showed their potential and rose to great prominence in the military and society at large. Fredrick Humphries was the first black Lieutenant to be commissioned into the prestigious Army Security Agency (now Military Intelligence) and to no surprise, finished second (2nd) in his class. Eugene Cromartie was the first black to finish number one (1st) at advance camp in 1956. General Cromartie rose to the rank of Major General and became known as the Army's "Top Cop" as he commanded the Army's Criminal Investigation Division. General Leroy Bell was an outstanding track star and over the years his exceptional leadership lead to his appointment as the Deputy Commanding General for the District of Columbia Army National Guard as a Brigadier General .
FAMU Army ROTC graduates have proudly served their country from the Korean War Conflict to the current operations in Iraq (OIF) and Afghanistan (OEF). In 1969, FAMU felt the increasing impact of the Vietnam War, particularly from national legislation. The pressure from the country's public opinion of Vietnam led to a federal law that made ROTC non-mandatory. In many institutions across the country enrollment dropped to zero (0) and some programs disbanded, not to return until early 1980s. During this very critical time, FAMU's administration was very supportive of ROTC. FAMU's ROTC program continued to produce quality leaders to met the needs of our military while serving our country proudly in the Vietnam War and beyond.
Many community leaders are affiliated with FAMU's Army ROTC, including over 1200 officers who have been commissioned through this excellent program. These great leaders include five general officers and one former Secretary of Defense cabinet official. The Florida A&M University Army ROTC program has maintained high standards and continues to produce superb commissioned officers. Under the leadership of President, Dr. Elmira Mangum and Professor of Military Science, LTC Edwin H. Escobar, we foresee an extremely bright future for our Rattler Battalion Cadets whom are "Committed to Excellence, Second to None"