Pershing Rifles is an organization of cadets held to a higher standard than the traditional ROTC cadet. Riflemen go through a selection process of skills training in military tasks and tactics as well as strict drill and ceremony in order to join the National Society of Pershing Rifles.
History of the National Society of Pershing Rifles
“To foster a spirit of friendship and cooperation among men in the military department and to maintain a highly efficient drill company.” This is the purpose of the Pershing Rifles, as propounded by its distinguished founder in the early 1890s.
In 1891 General Pershing, then a second Lieutenant in the Sixth Cavalry, became Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the University of Nebraska. He, wishing to improve the morale of the ROTC unit, formed a select company of men, thereafter known as Company A.
In 1892 this company won the maiden competition at the Omaha Competition. In 1893, the special drill company became a fraternal organization bearing the name of “Varsity Rifles.” In 1894, the organization, in appreciation of the initiative and cooperation of Lt. Pershing, changed its name to “Pershing Rifles.”
When Pershing left Nebraska, in 1895, he, at the request of a committee, gave the company a pair of his cavalry breeches. These breeches were cut into small pieces and were worn on the uniform as a sign of membership. These “ribbons” were the first service ribbons ever worn in the United States.