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Howard Family Combat Training Facility coming to DePuy

The Howard Family Combat Training Facility announcement
The Howard Family Combat Training Facility will be created in DePuy Military Hall. Front, from left, are Tiadra Simmermon (battalion cadet commander), Mary Howard ’84, Kay Howard ’62 and College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Lynn Sargeant; back, Max Howard (student), Dave Howard ‘84, Rick Howard ’62, SDSU Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dennis Hedge and Lt. Col. Stephen Sewell. Sewell, who graduated from SDSU in 1998, serves as the university’s 53rd professor of military science.

Changes keep happening at DePuy Military Hall. Renovations have taken place on the main floor, including the refinishing of the gymnasium floor, and spaces have been built for the students throughout the building.

Thanks to a $100,000 gift from the Rick ’62 and Kay ’62 Howard family, changes will continue to take place in DePuy’s basement. The family contributed the lead gift to create the Howard Family Combat Training Facility in the old rifle range.

“When I got here, I was told the room had flooded and not reopened. I went in there, looked around and it looked like it did when I left as an undergrad 20 years ago,” said Lt. Col. Steve Sewell ’98, who serves as the university’s 53rd professor of military science. “It didn’t seem to me anyone was really missing having the range.”

Sewell then asked two lieutenants, who were working as temporary employees, to review the military decision-making process and answer the question, does SDSU U.S. Army ROTC need a range? And if the answer was no, what could be done with that space?

conceptual drawing of the firing range remodel
Conceptual drawings of the Howard Family Concept Training Facility.

Due to the range south of Brookings, their initial answer was no. Another staff member then suggested the space be made into a facility for the recently revised Army Combat Fitness Test, which now requires cadets to test on exercises designed to simulate combat conditions, including dragging a weighted sled 25 meters, just as they might someday need to drag a wounded buddy off the battlefield.

“However, we started to do some measuring and found out we can only use the space as a training facility,” Sewell said, noting the ACFT needs an open space of 25 meters, which is not possible in the rifle range. “So, we’re going to double up on some things so our folks will train harder than the actual test.”

Sewell then designed the space, which when complete, will have artificial turf on one side and a rubberized flooring on the other. The rubberized flooring, which is also used in the SDSU Wellness Center, will be for weightlifting and have a grid for military operations planning.

“It will be a joint-use facility, meaning both Army and Air Force ROTC units can use it,” said Sewell, noting their logos will be on the floor.

“I couldn’t be prouder of Lieutenant Colonel Sewell, whose commitment to SDSU as an alumnus has been the driving force behind the effort to reimagine and repurpose the outdated rifle range into an innovative training space,” said Lynn Sargeant, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. “I also believe I speak not just for myself and Lieutenant Colonel Sewell, but also for all of the ROTC cadets, that we couldn’t be more grateful to Rick and Kay Howard for their transformatory gift.

“We are still working to raise the remaining funds needed to begin the renovations, especially as Army ROTC must fully implement the new training requirements of the Combat Fitness Test beginning in August 2020. We hope to be able to secure the remaining funds needed so that we can start construction this spring,” she continued.