Reared in the military because his father was a high ranking officer in the French Army, Gonzaga College President George de la Motte, S.J. wanted to start a Cadet program to train the students in 1899. He asked Captain Gerhard Luhn to head up a Cadet program. Captain Luhn had been a member of the United States Army for 42 years. That first year, 80 Cadets in two companies were enrolled. The War Department supplied the uniforms and guns. However, some of the Cadets were too small to shoulder the guns, so they were given wooden ones. Cadets were required to attend drill twice a week while wearing their uniform. Luhn held this position until he retired in 1905. The program officially ended in 1909.
From left to right: Captain Luhn, R. McHale, Hermon Budde, Pat Dwyer, P. Taufen, Jas. Hanley, Herb Rogers, M. Mitchell
Written to the Inspector General, U.S. Army, Washington D.C
When the United States officially entered World War I in 1917, Gonzaga students wanted to enlist and join the war effort. Gonzaga President James Brogan, S.J., looked for ways to keep them on campus. Initially, he persuaded officers at Fort Wright to provide drill instructors. Gonzaga then negotiated with the Department of War to establish a Students Army Training Corps (SATC) that began in the fall of 1918. For that program, selected students and faculty were sent to the Presidio in San Francisco for 60 days of training. Afterward, these students and teachers would help officers assigned to Gonzaga.
This program allowed students from ages 18 – 21 to continue their schooling and at the same time prepare themselves for the nation’s service. Rifles, uniforms, and other equipment were sent. The 350 students who joined received the rank and pay of a private. In the program’s first month, Capt. Theophilus Steele replaced Col. W. R. Abercrombie as commandant and Abercrombie was reassigned. After the armistice was signed, the SATC disbanded in December 1918.
In foreground are Pres. Fr. Brogan, S.J. and Capt. Theophilus Steele, Commanding Officer
Note: Date is incorrect on photograph.
After the SATC program was disbanded in December 1918, Gonzaga received a certificate from the Adjutant General in November 1921. It stated: “This is to certify that Gonzaga University, in a spirit of patriotism and of devotion to country, rendered efficient and loyal service in connection with The World War through the establishment and operation at that institution of a unit of the Students Army Training Corps.”