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Campus & Community

Honoring service with Veterans Day salute

Fighting Saints Battalion Video from November 2021 (Facebook) 

For almost 175 years, the Saint John’s community – monastics, students, faculty and alumni – have served their country in peace and war. That service is observed in the recently established Gallery of Honor, located in the passageway between the Quad and Saint Benet Hall.

The gallery hosts a Military Honor Roll, which relates the stories of 5,907 men and women who have served their country in peace and war. On the west wall is a bronze plaque that includes 486 veterans of World War I. On the facing wall are plaques that honor Tom Burnett ’85, a passenger on United Flight 93 and a hero of the 9/11 tragedy; and Col. Mark Vande Hei ’89, the first Johnnie astronaut who served two International Space Station missions.  

After the United States entered World War II, Saint John’s began formal military training when a contingent of 150 airmen arrived on campus and became the first members of the 87th College Training Detachment of the Army Air Corps. In less than a year, Saint John’s prepared over 1,000 men for their roles as airmen.

Saint John’s initial mandatory ROTC program began in 1952. The top-rated cadet in that class was David Durenberger, who represented the state of Minnesota in the U.S. Senate from 1978-95. The ROTC program became optional in 1965, and students from St. Cloud State University joined the program in 1968. ROTC was opened to female students from the College of Saint Benedict and St. Cloud State University in 1974.

Currently, the Fighting Saints Battalion is still comprised of students from Saint John’s University, the College of Saint Benedict and St. Cloud State University. The students within the battalion are active in the universities/college and various ROTC events, including: student leadership organizations, athletic departments, Ranger Challenge, Northern Warfare Competition and Bataan Death March.