Air Force ROTC

History of Detachment 345

The Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) unit established at University of Massachusetts Lowell was one of 64 units at colleges throughout the United States established in an effort to procure 27,000 Second Lieutenants by the year 1955.

It was stated in an official release by the Air Force in 1951 "although it is assumed by most that graduates from a textile college would be placed in a quartermasters unit of the Air Force. No such unit exists and no intention is so directed. Rather placement and assignment will be affected with academic major in mind. Those graduates who have both the desire and physical requirements for duty involving flying will be assigned to a flying command commensurate with their requests and subject to the interest of the service."

Throughout the late 1940s many of the service academies were sending their graduates to UMass Lowell for further degrees in Textiles and Fabric Technology. They were doing this for the purpose of learning new ways to produce camouflage material. For this reason and because at the time the University of Massachusetts Lowell was a land grant college and it was required to have one, the Department of Defense and the Air Force established an Air Force ROTC unit at UMass Lowell in July of 1951.

Since its inception in July of 1951 until December of 2009, Det 345 has been located on the third floor of Southwick Hall. Det 345 is now located on the fourth floor of the Engineering building.

Leadership Laboratory, during the late 50’s and 60’s, was held on Thursday afternoon. The cadet corps would gather behind the University and then parade up Riverside Ave to Textile with the ROTC band leading the way. Dr. Everett Olson was quoted as saying “it was a magnificent event, it was something we were all proud of, because we have never had our own band before.”

When the Costello Gymnasium was built, the school installed a rifle range in the basement for us by the ROTC rifle club. This facility was used until the early 80’s when due to lack of use it was closed and put to other uses.

  • July 1, 1951 – AFROTC established at UMass Lowell with Lt. Col. Kelley as Professor of Air Science and Tactics.
  • November 15, 1951 – AFROTC had its first full dress drill.
  • August 1, 1952  – First HQ’s for AFROTC established at Maxwell AFB, Alabama with Brig Gen Matthew K. Deichelmann as first commandant.
  • February 16, 1952 – First Military Ball held at UMass Lowell, the whole university was invited at $4.00 per couple.
  • February 18, 1954 – Howard Cobin was the first cadet to be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant from UMass Lowell.
  • 1951 through 1965 – ROTC was mandatory for the first two years of college.
  • 1970 – Women college students eligible for both two and four year ROTC programs.
  • 1974 – Anne Marie Neacy was the first woman cadet to be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant from UMass Lowell.
  • April 1977 – Lowell celebrates 30th anniversary of the Air Force with week-long festivities along the Merrimack River.
    • Maj. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Jr attended the 30th Anniversary to accept honors on behalf of his father, Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Sr., former Air Force Chief of Staff.
    • Famed conductor, Arthur Fiedler, maestro of the Boston Pops Orchestra, led the USAF Band in "The Stars and Stripes Forever" at the 30th Anniversary.
  • October 1981 – Lowell ranks 5th out of some 148 ROTC units in the country.
  • 1984 – Cadet Michael Piscitelli from DWC was named the most outstanding AFROTC pilot in the nation.
  • October 6-12, 1987 – Air Force’s 40th Anniversary was celebrated.
  • 1987 – Det 345 was rated number one detachment in the entire northeast region and top ten in the nation.
    • Lt. Col. Shaughnessy, Det 345 Commander, was presented the Air force Association Special Presidential Citation.
  • 2002 - Capt. John Ogonowski, a graduate of AFROTC Detachment 345, was the command pilot on American Airlines flight 11 whose plane was hijacked and steered into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. In 2002 the Captain John Ogonowski Scholarship is awarded to the top UMass Lowell AFROTC cadet in their Junior year. 
  • May 5, 2011 - University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Chancellor, Marty Meehan, and the University of Massachusetts Lowell honored Det 345 on its 60th Anniversary with a Flag Retreat Ceremony in front of Cumnock Hall. Mr. Richard Lombardi, a 1980 alumnus of UMass Lowell and Det 345 was the keynote speaker. 
  • October 2011 - Det 345 was awarded the AFROTC Northeast Region’s "Right-of-Line Award" in the Small Unit category. This award is given out once annually to the small detachment in the Northeast Region who best excels in the areas of "Production, Education, Recruiting and Retention, University and Public Relations, and Cadet Activities."
  • May 18, 2012 - Det 345’s long-time home on the fourth floor of Perry Hall on the North Campus of UMass Lowell was destroyed in a fire. The Det was temporarily relocated to the first floor of Donahue Hall and remained there from June through August of 2012. In September of 2012, Det 345 was again relocated, this time to its current home in the Tsongas Center. Plans are in the works to relocate the Det in the summer of 2013 to a new, permanent location.
  • October 15, 2012 - Det 345 is once again awarded the AFROTC Northeast Region’s "Right-of-Line Award" in the Small Unit category! This made them back-to-back winners of the award and was a true testament to the "character, determination, and resilience of both the cadets and cadre."