When Lt. Col. Early Howard, Jr. returned to his alma mater as the professor of military science and ROTC department chair last year, one of his goals was to grow the Alabama A&M ROTC program that played such a pivotal role in his career.

“I’m an alum of this program,” said Howard. “So, I have a vested interest in this program.”

A Montgomery native, Howard was commissioned from the AAMU ROTC program in 2003 and joined the Military Police Corps where he served for 20 years.

There are three ways to become an officer in the military in any service unit: through West Point, the United States Military Academy, or through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. AAMU’s Bulldog Battalion Army ROTC commissioned its 1,000th officer this past spring – a mile- stone that coincided with the 50th anniversary of the program on campus.

This year, the Bulldog Battalion is welcoming the most incoming cadets in 10 years.

“What I’m really excited about for this program

this year is the new incoming talent we have,” said Cdt. Ezekial Burwell. “We have a bunch of college students who don’t know what’s going on at all, and that’s the best part. Those first weeks are going to be a little rough and shaky, but it’s ok because they’re going to be fine-tuned by the end of this semester.”

Howard has high expectations for student leaders and says the program is built to support students of a new generation who have to adjust to the rigor and demands of tough and realistic infantry training.

“It’s still funny to see some of them (upperclassmen) step into the leadership roles,” said Howard. “Their responsibility is to bring up the generation behind them.”

Since it obtained its ROTC program charter in 1970, the Bulldog Battalian has incorporated pro- grams from three other North Alabama universities: University of Alabama in Huntsville, Athens State University, and most recently, Oakwood University.: https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=h_ Bk7Y1sPU4