Baylor's Military Legacy and Tradition

Baylor University has a storied history of honoring our men and women who served in the military. The echoes of Baylor's legacy of service resounds from our Ring of Honor, honoring our two Medal of Honor recipients Jack Lummus and John Kane. While walking around Baylor's campus, you will never be far from the outstretched shadow of one of our lampposts, inscribed with the name of one of Baylor's Alumni who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country. Our Air Force ROTC was established in July 1948, only 10 months after the Air Force ROTC was created. In 2008 our AFROTC was selected as the number 1 large detachment in the nation. Baylor's current Army ROTC was established in 2008, but we have had ties to developing Army Officers dating back to our original Bear Battalion from 1891.

While on Baylor's beautiful campus, take a moment to stop and take in the names of the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service. These can be seen our lampposts all across campus. While reading these names, you may feel compelled to learn more about the stories behind them. You can find these stories in a wonderfully detailed book, Soldiers of the Wooden Cross, compiled by Baylor's own Frank Jasek. Soldiers of the Wooden Cross chronicles the stories of the 145 individuals killed in service to their country during the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, in peace, Vietnam, and Iraqi Freedom.

"Frank was struck by the fact that each of those plaques represented a former Baylor student who had dreams and ambitions that were never realized, because they gave their life so that Frank and others would be guaranteed the freedom to be a part of a great university... Unlike others who had wondered, Frank took action..." - Grant Teaff, Soldiers of the Wooden Cross Forward

To find out more about the incredible 15 year journey of work that was poured into this book, you can go to the Baylor Proud article here.

You can visit the book's Facebook page HERE.

For those veterans who have stumbled upon this page - on behalf of VETS and Baylor University, thank you for your service!


Baylor Challenge Coin

VETS is extremely proud of the great team of faculty and staff at Baylor University who constantly go above and beyond the call of duty to serve our student veterans in the classroom and around the campus. In order to honor these dedicated individuals, we provide challenge coins to our student veterans. Throughout the year, the veterans then have the opportunity to give these coins to faculty, staff or other students who have gone above and beyond in support of their academic journey. Then, during the year, we host a banquet where the individuals who were given coins are honored for their exemplary support.

History of the Challenge Coin

According to one story, challenge coins originated during World War I. American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. Some were wealthy scions attending colleges such as Yale and Harvard who quit in mid-term to join the war. In one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze and presented them to his unit. One young pilot placed the medallion in a small leather pouch that he wore about his neck. Shortly after acquiring the medallions, the pilots' aircraft was severely damaged by ground fire. He was forced to land behind enemy lines and was immediately captured by a German patrol. In order to discourage his escape, the Germans took all of his personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck. In the meantime, he was taken to a small French town near the front. Taking advantage of a bombardment that night, he escaped. However, he was without personal identification.

He succeeded in avoiding German patrols by donning civilian attire and reached the front lines. With great difficulty, he crossed no-man's land. Eventually, he stumbled onto a French outpost. Unfortunately, saboteurs had plagued the French in the sector. They sometimes masqueraded as civilians and wore civilian clothes. Not recognizing the young pilot's American accent, the French thought him to be a saboteur and made ready to execute him. He had no identification to prove his allegiance, but he did have his leather pouch containing the medallion. He showed the medallion to his would-be executioners and one of his French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion. They delayed his execution long enough for him to confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him they gave him much needed food and drink. Back at his squadron, it became tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallion or coin at all times.