The ROTC program at Davis underwent many changes before it settled into the Forged Gold Battalion in 1986. In 1905 Davis was founded as the agricultural extension of the University of California, Berkeley. However, Davis emerged as a viable campus of its own by 1959. Constantly adjusting to meet the requirements of the state and UC Regents, the ROTC program received many different responses from its student population over time. Though Berkeley did not start ROTC at Davis until 1923, many laws had already been passed dealing with compulsory versus voluntary ROTC participation. Like many other campuses, Davis dealt with those laws and faced the riots of the 70s; yet in the end it has produced a highly successful Army ROTC program.
The University of California, Berkeley, began teaching ROTC at Davis in January 1923 under the direction of Colonel J.T. Nance. Seventy students were instructed by one officer who came to Davis once a week. In December 1948, Colonel William L. Ritter, PMS, Berkeley, and President Robert G. Sproul, UC Davis, proposed establishment of a permanent unit at Davis. The proposal was approved and implemented effective 1 August 1949. The unit was designated as Infantry Branch ROTC, commanded by LTC William E. Ball, Infantry. In 1953 the unit became a General Military Science Unit. It was not until June 29, 1962 that the Regents voted to end compulsory ROTC at the UCs. From then until the present, ROTC at UC Davis has remained a completely voluntary course and program.
The schools program managed to survive the Vietnam years and come out on top going into the 1980s. The unit adopted the Battalion name Forged Gold and the motto “High Speed.” Now a fully functioning, separate unit, the Forged Gold Battalion teamed up with CSU Chico and CSU Sacramento, using UC Davis as the main unit home.
As the unit progressed forward it became known for more and more achievements. In 1988, UC Davis was deemed the best trained school in the nation at the advanced. In 1997 Cadet Command recognized the Forged Gold Battalion as the top medium school in the nation. In less than forty years, the Battalion went from an unsupported and compulsory course to a high achieving and ambitious program.
From 2002 on, the Forged Gold Battalion has been littered with individual and group achievements. To recognize the unit’s hard work over the years, the MacArthur Foundation honored the Forged Gold Battalion as the most outstanding battalion in the nation. “The MacArthur Foundation annually recognizes the top ROTC program. The foundation determines the best program by the performance of their cadets at the National Advanced Leadership Camp held at Fort Lewis over the summer.
Among the individual efforts, in 2004 a group of ambitious cadets signed up for the annual Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico. The five UCD students, along with 4,000 other participants from around the nation relived the history of the Bataan Peninsula during WWII. Entered in the ROTC heavy division, each of the cadets finished the 26.2 mile course with a 50lbs ruck sack, completing the course in 6 hours and 15 minutes and finishing 2nd overall. That same year, the Forged Gold Battalion entered a “Military Co-ed heavy” team who captured first place in their division, with a time of 6 hours and 44 minutes.
Currently, the Forged Gold Battalion continues to strive to meet the demands of an Army at war. There have been many new additions to the battalion, both Cadre and Cadets. The two schools continue to show how they are one battalion when in 2007, a joint UCD/CSUS Ranger Challenge Team placed first in the regional Ranger Challenge Competition. The Forged Gold Battalion strives to reach new heights as one of the best ROTC programs in the nation by constantly working to stay in shape militarily, physically, and academically.
Beginning in the Fall of 2008, the Forged Gold Battalion will be welcoming Simpson University in Redding, California to the program as a cross enrolled company. Through the addition of Simpson, we look to continue a tradition of excellence in Army ROTC and offer the ROTC option to those students attending school in the Northern part of California. Simpson University is a private Christian college founded in 1921 and established in Seattle, WA. Simpson University initially offered a two year program revolving around spiritual growth and the preparation for a Christian life and service, especially overseas. In 1955, when the school moved to San Francisco, CA they began offering bachelor’s degrees and by 1971 they had become a liberal arts college offering professional as well as biblical studies. Simpson University moved to its current location in 1989 building a brand new campus, establishing a graduate school, doubling undergraduate enrollment and continues to expand their campus to this day. With the schools motto of “Gateway to World Service”, Army ROTC will integrate its studies with Simpson University to expand its “service” through ministry and the United States Army.
To this day and in the future, the Army is going through many changes, and the Cadets of the Forged Gold Battalion are ready and willing to keep up and drive on. By living up to history of the organization that is the Forged Gold Battalion, the Cadets know that they will be well prepared to lead the nation’s sons and daughters into whatever conflict or situation the future will bring.