Princeton ROTC initially prepared students for Army service, but the Navy and, after 1947, the Air Force also established ROTC programs on campus.
From the end of World War II through the end of the draft in 1972, Princeton’s ROTC programs involved large numbers of students and were a prominent feature of campus life. With the end of the draft and the Nation’s involvement in the Vietnam War, the programs declined in popularity. The Navy ended its program, and Air Force ROTC was consolidated at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, 17 miles north of Princeton.
Princeton continues to host an Army ROTC program, and includes cadets from Rider University, the College of New Jersey (the former Trenton State College) and most recently Rowan University (the former Glassboro State College, 60 miles south of Princeton).
Princeton University was founded in 1746, thirty years before the Declaration of Independence. Princeton graduates have served in all of the Nation’s conflicts. The National Defense Act of 1916 created the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, effectively combining into a single entity the various training programs that existed at the time. Princeton hosted one of the original ROTC programs beginning in 1919, and has hosted a program continuously since then. Nearly 10,000 Princeton graduates served in World War II, and some of these alumni remain active in A&F PURTOC today. Princeton commissioned over 2,000 Army officers through the ROTC program between 1919 and 1941, and many of these graduates were among the leaders of Princeton’s contribution to the war effort.