By Major General Christopher Ballard ’84.
Virtually every segment of civil society – business, government, medicine, academia, sport and national defense – advance under the recognizable leadership of women and men of character, courage and competence. They help define our collective purpose and give us direction. They seem to rise to the top during crucible events, inspiring us to achieve the seemingly impossible. We depend on them to articulate a vision for our future and to be decisive when it counts. We hold them as examples of what we strive to be.This year, we celebrate 70 years of leader development at Furman University through the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Program. In conjunction with May 2021 Commencement, Furman will once again commission officers into the active United States Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard. Since 1950, Furman has invested in developing citizen-soldiers who balance scholarship, physical fitness and leadership training to prepare for and serve the nation’s defense. Today, the Paladin Battalion includes cadets from Furman University, as well as Bob Jones and North Greenville universities. These new officers will be expected to think critically and communicate clearly, to be adaptive and innovative, to make sound moral judgments in crisis situations, and to lead by example.
Until the draft was eliminated in 1973, ROTC training was required for all able-bodied male Furman students. Countless Furman graduates have applied those lessons to successful civilian and military careers:
- John E. Johns ’47 – Served in the Army Air Corps during WWII, flying 35 combat missions over Europe as part of a B-17 crew. Furman University President, 1976-1994.
- Bud Alley ’64 – Infantry officer who survived the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, Vietnam in November 1965.
- Gordon Herring ’65 – Army signal officer who went on to become a leader in the cable television industry and a founder of The Weather Channel.
- Vice Adm. Mike McConnell ’67 – Naval intelligence officer who served as director of the National Security Agency and Director of National Intelligence under Presidents Bush and Obama.
- Gen. John Mulholland ’78 – Special Forces officer who commanded units in Afghanistan and Iraq, ultimately commanding the Army’s Special Operations Command.
- Gen. James Pasquarette ’83 – Infantry officer currently serving in the Pentagon as the Army’s director of programs and budget.
Furman’s newest affinity group – The Furman Military Alumni Association
On this 70th Anniversary of ROTC at Furman, we proudly announce the establishment of the Furman Military Alumni Association (FMAA). Open to all students, alumni and families with shared military experiences, FMAA seeks to connect the roughly 1,200 Furman military alumni and support the efforts of Furman’s Department of Military Science to provide the best possible leader development and officership preparation for the growing Paladin Battalion.
Through mentorship and guest speaker programs, historical battlefield visits and other unique leadership opportunities, FMAA hopes to provide Paladin Battalion cadets with the same rich training experience enjoyed by cadets at the nation’s military academies. Thanks to early interest and generous financial contributions, Furman and the FMAA have established the FMAA Fund, which will provide enduring support to leadership development at Furman.
Major General Christopher Ballard ’84 majored in Political Science and German. He retired from the U.S. Army in 2019 as deputy director of operations at the National Security Agency. Thirteen years of his 35-year career were spent overseas, including combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina, with his wife of 35 years, Michelle ’83.