Last modified: Thursday, March 31, 2005
Pershing Rifles to take center court in national competition at IUB
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- For nearly three decades, its members have performed color guard routines before basketball games at Assembly Hall on the campus of Indiana University Bloomington. The Pershing Rifles, a company of ROTC cadets and civilians at IUB, now will get its own chance to compete at the sports mecca in the 2005 Pershing Rifles National Conference Competition on April 9. The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at Assembly Hall at 8 a.m.
Pershing Rifles is a nationwide military fraternity, specializing in drill and ceremony, whose membership is open to all services and civilians. The IUB Pershing Rifles team includes Army and Air Force ROTC cadets and students. This is the first time IUB has hosted the national competition.
This year's Pershing Rifles company will compete against 18 other teams from across the nation in various challenges, including squad drills, inspection, rifle twirling, color guard and an individual "drill-down." In the drill-down or "knockout" challenge, cadets attempt to follow a drill sergeant's commands and are eliminated, one by one, if they make a mistake. The last person remaining is declared the winner.
"It's basically a massive game of 'Simon Says,'" said senior Matthew Ridge, a member of IUB's 24-person Pershing Rifles squad.
Last year's team finished in second place overall at the national competition at Fort Monroe in Virginia.
Despite the intensity of the competition, some light-hearted moments have occurred. At a squad inspection during last year's event, a drill sergeant asked Ridge what the maximum effective range of his Springfield rifle was. He replied, "Drill sergeant, seeing as this rifle is demilitarized, the maximum effective range is as far as I can throw it, drill sergeant."
The National Society of Pershing Rifles was founded in 1891 by then-Lt. John J. Pershing as a means of increasing the motivation and esprit de corps of the cadets in the military department at the University of Nebraska, where Pershing served as a professor of military science. Pershing Rifles seeks to develop traits of outstanding leadership, military science and discipline within the framework of a military-oriented honorary fraternity.
The ranks of retired Pershing Riflemen include the late Elvis J. Stahr, who served as IU's president from 1962 to 1968, and retired Army Gen. and IU alumnus Larry R. Ellis.