Skip to main content

ROTC celebrates opening of Howard Family Combat Fitness Training Facility

Photo of 3 men and 2 women standing in front of a plaque
The Howard family poses in front of the plaque in the new training facility Oct. 9, 2021. Members of the family from left to right include: Richard (Rick) Howard, Jan Howard, Tom Howard, Phil Howard and Pat Howard.

A year of work came to completion with the official opening of the Howard Family Combat Fitness Training Facility Oct. 9. The facility has been a highly anticipated project for the ROTC program.

The first donation for the facility came from Rick and Kay, pledging $100,000 toward the renovation. Further donations came from Tom and Jan in June 2020 and Phil and Pat in October 2020. Ground breaking took place Nov. 9, 2019, in DePuy Hall.

The Howard family has a long history at SDSU. Members of the family include Rick and Kay (SDSU class of 1962), Tom and Jan (SDSU class of 1965) and Phil and Pat (SDSU class of 1972). All six of the children from Rick and Kay graduated from SDSU, five of whom became military officers. 

A group of individuals cut a blue ribbon at a ceremony

The Howard family has been the epitome of selfless service through the years of service to their country and community. Now, they are bringing that character of service to SDSU through their donation. Phil Howard stated love for our country, the state of South Dakota and access to opportunities motivated his family to donate. Their families hope to remove barriers to resources that can help SDSU cadets reach their full potential.

Jason Kettwig '98, professor of military science, said, “The Howard family’s generosity and the way we are supported by the university and ROTC alumni is really what makes this program special. It allows us to train some of the finest cadets in the country. Without that generosity and support, our job would be much more difficult and we as a program could not be as successful as it currently is.”

Cadets are already enjoying the benefits of the new space. Donovan Bain, U.S. Army ROTC cadet, said having their own facility with features like adequate space and rubber floors for workouts has been vital. “Overall, I am very grateful for the wonderful donation that the Howard family has offered to the program,” said Bain. “Moving forward, we will find even more efficient ways to use the space provided for maximum performance.”

The facility will have an impact on cadets for years to come. Kettwig said the new Army Combat Fitness Test requires a facility such as this to train cadets properly. “For the cadets, the ACFT is a large portion of how they are graded with respect to commissioning,” Kettwig said. “This facility will ensure that they have every opportunity to train correctly and accomplish the best they can when tested.”

The Howard family hopes that the facility provides a place to “build individual physical skills and a place to build comradery, which can be carried forward for a lifetime.”