MSU Air Force ROTC takes off with top national honor

Contact: James Carskadon

Mississippi State University Air Force ROTC Detachment 425 was recognized with the national 2016 Team Excellence Award, topping 145 U.S. units for the honor.  (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University’s Air Force ROTC detachment has received the national 2016 Team Excellence Award for AFROTC, topping 145 U.S. units for the honor, the Department of the Air Force’s Headquarters Air Force ROTC recently announced.

The national award comes shortly after Detachment 425 earned the Air Force ROTC Team Excellence Award for the Air Force ROTC Southwest Region. The detachment is under the command of Lt. Col. Joseph Cassidy, a professor of aerospace studies in MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences. Cassidy said support from the university and organizations such as the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans, and community partners such as the Columbus Air Force Base help make MSU’s Air Force ROTC one of the best in the country.

“We are honored to receive the 2016 Team Excellence Award given to one of 145 Air Force ROTC units nationwide,” Cassidy said. “The support from Mississippi State University, the College of Arts and Sciences, university partners and community partners all were instrumental in helping AFROTC Detachment 425 reach new heights.”

MSU’s Air Force ROTC unit was chosen for the award based on a wide variety of achievements, including university service, community service and AFROTC cadet training performance at a national level field training or “boot camp” event. College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Rick Travis said the award is a testament to the leadership of Cassidy and the dedication of the students and staff that make up the detachment.

“As a longtime professor of political science who focuses on international affairs, my courses have always attracted a fair number of AFROTC students,” Travis said. “The one word that has always come to my mind regarding these young women and men is quality; quality in terms of their intellect, in terms of their character, and in terms of how they were being trained. These young women and men of Detachment 425 in 2017 will join a long list of Air Force officers who proudly serve their country and have brought great pride to Mississippi State University.”

MSU’s Air Force ROTC program allows cadets to become officers in the U.S. Air Force while working toward their degrees. In addition to MSU, students at Mississippi University for Women and East Mississippi Community College are eligible to join MSU’s AFROTC if all requirements are met.

MSU provides out-of-state tuition waivers for Air Force ROTC cadets, which Cassidy said has helped increase the quality of cadets attracted to the detachment. The academic opportunities at MSU and the strength of the detachment’s support staff also make for strong selling points, according to Cassidy.

Mississippi State has a long tradition of preparing officers for the United States Armed Forces. The university established an ROTC program in 1917 to help meet the growing demand for military officers during World War I. As air power became a prominent factor in World War II, MSU became a participant in the Army Air Forces Training Program. Two years after the U.S. Air Force became a separate service in 1947, Air Force ROTC Detachment 15 was activated at MSU. In 1952, the unit was re-designated as Detachment 425. Since then, Detachment 425 has commissioned hundreds of officers and has a current mission of commissioning the best second lieutenants in the Air Force.

MSU’s Air Force ROTC detachment consists of approximately 80 cadets, with 12 officers projected to be commissioned this spring. For more, see

The College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,000 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. It also is home to the most diverse units for research and scholarly activities, including natural and physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities. For more information, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at