Our History

The “Fire Battalion” is as diverse as the community in which it’s located.

On 25 April 1947, then Chief of Staff of the Army, Dwight D. Eisenhower, signed General Orders 91 creating the ROTC on the University of Illinois Urbana Campus. Since the old Navy Pier campus was an extension of the University of Illinois, the ROTC detachment at Navy Pier was officially part of the University of Illinois’ program. ROTC Flourished during the post WWII years. The Fire Battalion’s history indicates a cadet battalion enrollment reaching 600 cadets during the early 1950s. In 1965, the university campus moved from Navy Pier to its present location offering courses in four colleges to about 5000 students. During the Vietnam Years, 1965-1975, the Fire Battalion was still a detachment of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1973, following to Department of the Army Guidance women were allowed into the ROTC Program. Around 1976 UIC Fire Battalion was officially designated a Battalion separate and distinct from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1978, a staff study, nicknamed the Subway Study, was conducted by the Loyola Instructor Group at the behest of the Second Region Commander. The study was designed to test the feasibility of tying all the Chicago area programs together using the subway-rapid transit system. The idea was abandoned due to excessive travel times for students. Under President Reagan, during the Cold War years of the 1980’s, the program was reinvigorated and many of the city’s smaller schools and universities were cross-enrolling in the UIC ROTC program. On 17 May 1991, The Loyola-DePaul Battalion commissioned their last 5 cadets and folded its colors for the last time. The Fire Battalion assumed responsibility for the cross-enrolled students from Loyola and DePaul Universities (now Rambler Battalion) as well as Northeastern Illinois University and Northwestern University. The latter two schools were official extensions of the Loyola Battalion. Shortly after, Chicago State University folded its colors as did Illinois Institute of Technology. In 1996, the Fire Battalion became the host ROTC unit for all of the Chicago area.  Since 2012, the Loyola Battalion re-opened its doors, there are now 2 Chicago host schools.

UIC has an active and diverse cadet population of 165+ cadets from across the city’s major institutions. Our cadre and staff, who represents over 200 years of experience, trains and commissions approximately 20-25 cadets a year and is one of the nation’s largest battalions.

If you are interested in joining the ROTC and becoming part of the greatest team that you will ever have the opportunity to serve then please visit our ‘How to Join’ page.