PMC: A Distinguished Military College

DMG RiserTheodore Hyatt’s introduction of military training, using the West Point program as a yardstick, was so successful that “the War Department considered Pennsylvania Military College the one institution in the country most nearly on a par with West Point.” Although the War Department had no formal inspection for those schools with military instructors and equipment until 1889, PMC had its first inspection in 1880. In 1904, PMC was named to the top ten distinguished military institutions by the War Department. Ten years later, the War Department inspections resulted in twenty-nine schools being classified as “distinguished colleges” out of 139 inspected. PMC was among the top twenty-nine schools. In 1926, Douglas MacArthur congratulated PMC on its “well merited distinction.” The college briefly lost its designation as a distinguished military college due to low enrollment. It was regained in 1924 and continued to hold this distinction thereafter.

The yearly War Department inspections were more than a display of military ceremony. The schedule was demanding and included cadet interviews, inspections of quarters as well the institution and how the cadets performed in weapons, marching, voice and command along with detailed phases of small unit command. Other inspection teams echoed the comments of Brigadier General Tasker that “The battalion work at inspection, review, parade, and extended-order drills, the artillery drill and the mounted drill, were exceedingly good,” for many years to come.

As a distinguished military college, PMC would submit the names of three cadets to the War Department. These cadets were then recognized as having been added to the War Department Records. Later, the number of cadets selected each year was expanded and they were recognized as Distinguished Military Students. These cadets possessed outstanding qualities of leadership, an aptitude for military science as well as being an above average student and demonstrated their involvement in campus and civic activities.