Purdue Air Force ROTC unit named nation's best

November 11, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University's Air Force ROTC unit has won the Right of Line Award, making it the top officer-training program among those at 144 universities in the country.

''Right of line in the Air Force means you're the best,'' said Col. Tom Frooninckx, commander of Purdue's Air Force ROTC Detachment 220 Cadet wing and aerospace professor.

The award was announced Nov. 4 during an annual national conference in Montgomery, Ala., of all college Air Force ROTC units. Frooninckx received the award from Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, during a ceremony.

The award is based on several factors, Frooninckx said. These include production of high-quality officers for the Air Force, which is ROTC's top mission; leadership training; military education, recruiting and retention of cadets; university and public relations; community service; and physical fitness.

University detachments are divided into three categories -- small, medium and large -- and placed in one of four geographical regions. The winner of each region is then considered for the national award. Units that are in the large category and win, such as Purdue, are considered the top out of all 144.

The other three semifinalists were from the Virginia Military Institute, Loyola Marymount in California and Oregon State University.

Frooninckx said the Purdue detachment has won its regional award, known as the High Flight Award, four times, but it's the first national award it has received.

''Purdue has always had a very strong Air Force ROTC program,'' said Frooninckx of the unit that was established in 1947. ''It's always had a solid reputation in the Air Force, and winning this award brings it to another level. It's a tribute to Col. Mike Silver (Frooninckx's predecessor) and to our Air Force staff here. Most importantly, it's a tribute to our dedicated students who are officer candidates in the program. They especially excel in their leadership training and their physical fitness, and I know the Air Force will be in great hands when they are commissioned as second lieutenants upon graduation from Purdue.''

There are 180 cadets in Purdue's ROTC detachment. The number of officers commissioned by the detachment each year has been the most in the Big Ten for several years.

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711, gmcclure@purdue.edu

Source: Col. Tom Frooninckx, 765-494-2046, tfroonin@purdue.edu