The National Society of Pershing Rifles
The Pershing Rifles was founded on October 2, 1894 by a dedicated, and well trained group of cadets at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. These cadets represented the best the battalion had to offer. They took pride in themselves, and in each other as Pershing Riflemen. They set the example for others to follow, and maintained a level of professional and discipline that was emulated by their peers.
Over 120 years later, the Pershing Rifles remains dedicated to the ideals espoused by our patron, General of the Armies John J. Pershing. We remained focused on our mission of producing leaders, and take pride in carrying on the traditions of professional, discipline, and dedicated.
The men and women who have had the honor to wear the Pershing Rifles cord have distinguished themselves as Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen – and have gone on to lead successful careers in the public and private sectors. The skills they learned as members of the Pershing Rifles helped prepare them for success in life, whether it be in service to their nation, or in business.
Today’s organization is no different. We strive for excellence in every endeavor, and put the needs of others above our own. If you’re already a member, I challenge you continue to live up to the standard set by our patron, General Pershing. If you’re not a member, consider taking the challenge.
P/R MG Austin Smith
National Society of Pershing Rifles
The National Society of Pershing Rifles is a military-oriented, national honor society. Originally founded in 1894 as a special drill unit at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, we are the oldest continuously operating U.S. collegiate organization dedicated to military drill. Originally named Varsity Rifles, members renamed the organization in honor of their mentor and patron, then- Lieutenant John J. Pershing, upon his departure from the university in 1895.
Pershing Rifles became a National organization in 1928, expanding to include several other universities, with companies consisting of drill teams as well as tactical units. Together, these units form what is known as the National Society of Pershing Rifles.
Ultimately, the purpose of the National Society of Pershing Rifles is to develop, to the highest degree possible, outstanding traits of leadership, military science, military bearing, and discipline within the framework of a military oriented, honorary fraternity.
Ultimately, the Pershing Rifles exists to develop leaders. We accomplish this in a number of ways.
The core of our leadership development program is our organizational model. The National Society of Pershing Rifles is a completely student run organization, from the local level through the National Headquarters. While the organization maintains a board of advisors that helps provide guidance and mentorship, the daily management of a national organization consisting of over 60 chapters is placed in the charge of undergraduate students. In this way, R.O.T.C. cadets and midshipmen gain valuable organizational leadership skills that are almost impossible to teach within the framework of R.O.T.C. or other leadership development programs.
In addition, most Pershing Rifles units serve as regulation and exhibition drills teams, color guards, and honor guards for their respective host universities and R.O.T.C. departments. Some units study and train in basic military tactics.
All Pershing Rifles units are encouraged to get involved in their local communities. Many accomplish this by partnering with local high school level J.R.O.T.C. programs, providing positive mentors to high school students, hosting and judging drill competitions, and getting involved in community service activities.
Membership in the Pershing Rifles is open to any student enrolled in a college or university, anywhere in the United States and Puerto Rico, regardless of whether or not the student is enrolled in R.O.T.C.
The Pershing Rifles is a tri-service organization, and consists of members enrolled in the United States Army, Navy, and Air Force R.O.T.C. programs – as well as a number of civilians who hold a close affection for the Armed Forces, but are not planning on going into any one of the services upon graduation.
If you are interested in joining, first find out if there is a local chapter (or Company) at your college or university. Our website includes a list of all of the colleges or universities that host Pershing Rifles Companies, and a method for contacting each unit. (Clicking on the Find a Company link under the Contact Us menu option above.)
If your college or university does not already have an active chapter, consider chartering a new unit. More information about the expansion process can be found under the Start a Company menu option above.