History of the National Society of Pershing Rifles & Q-8 "To foster a spirit of friendship and cooperation among men in the military department and to maintain a highly efficient drill company." This is the purpose of the Pershing Rifles, as propounded by its distinguished founder in the early eighteen nineties.
In 1891 General Pershing, then a second Lieutenant in the Sixth Cavalry, became Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the University of Nebraska. He, wishing to improve the morale of the ROTC unit, formed a select company of men, thereafter known as Company A.
In 1892 this company won the maiden competition at the Omaha Competition. In 1893, the special drill company became a fraternal organization bearing the name of "Varsity Rifles." In 1894, the organization, in appreciation of the initiative and cooperation of Lt. Pershing, changed its name to "Pershing Rifles."
When Pershing left Nebraska, in 1895, he, at the request of a committee, gave the company a pair of his cavalry breeches. These breeches were cut into small pieces and were worn on the uniform as a sign of membership. These "ribbons" were the first service ribbons ever worn in the United States.
During the Spanish American War, thirty members of the, now powerful, Pershing Rifles enlisted in the 1st Nebraska Volunteers. W. H. Oury, Captain of the Pershing Rifles, now a full Colonel in the Regular Army, was placed in command. Another Pershing Rifleman by the name of Robbins was made the First Sergeant. He later achieved high position in the war department. Every one of the thirty distinguished himself in the ensuing battles.
From 1900 to 1911, Pershing Rifles reached the height of its existence prior to World War II. It was one of the most important features of Nebraska military and social life. Membership was a great military honor. Its influence in the Military department continued strong until 1911.
After 1911 the organization suddenly lost prestige and declined deplorably. Its activity suddenly seemed to cease. The organization became a mere shadow of itself. Its military influence plummeted and its social activities dropped.
In 1917, the conditions became so bad that the organization was disbanded and its records were burned. Thus in seven short years, this promising organization had passed from national renown to oblivion.
In 1920 Pershing Rifles was reborn. Out of the ashes of the organization which had died of its own weight in 1917, there sprang a corps with new life and activity. It was obvious the prestige of the early 1900's was missing.
As originally organized in 1920, Pershing Rifles was an organization for junior officers. It soon, however regained its status as a basic military society. The presence of Scabbard and Blade on the Nebraska campus probably prevented its growth as an officers organization.
The growth of Pershing Rifles after its reorganization is as remarkable as its former decline. It stepped back into its old niche and strove to grow big enough to fill it again. By 1924, it had regained some of its lost prestige. Special drill companies all over the country began to seek admittance into Pershing Rifles.
The present National Honorary Society of Pershing Rifles owes its existence to Ohio State University. In the fall of 1922, a group of advanced course men got together and formed "The President's Guard." It was so named in honor of William Oxely Thompson, President of Ohio State University. The "Guard" gave an exhibition drill on Military Field Day in the spring of 1923. After this exhibition the company disbanded.
In 1952 Company Q of the Eighth Regiment of Pershing Rifles was formed and chartered at Hofstra University. Over the years the numbers within the company grew and many a PR served his country in times of peace and war. Many a Q-8 company attended the Annual Pershing Rifle National Convention and walked away with more than a few honors and awards, some of which may still be seen in the trophy cases at the Hofstra R.O.T.C. offices.
After the Vietnam War R.O.T.C. enrollment declined and so did the numbers within Q-8, but those there carried on the traditions of their predecessors. Now being formerly recognized as a fraternity on campus Q-8 was obligated to join the IGC (Inter-Greek Council) and in 1983 one PR, Bob Marcinkowski was elected president of that organziation.
In 2001 a group of alumni contacted the new PMS at Hofstra and asked if they could hold a pledge cycle and re-activate the company. The PMS agreed and gave the alumni his cooperation on this endeavor. In the Spring of 2002 the first pledge class in years was initiated into the company and at the 2002 National Convention Company Q of the Eighth Regiment of Pershing Rifles was re-charted before the entire delagation in attendance.
On May 21, 2005, the PR Q-8 Alumni Association was officially recognized at a ceremony held at Hofstra University as a chartered alumni organization at the school. Since the organization was rechartered in 2002, several brothers have received scholarships from the association.
During the weekend of March 14-16, 2008, two very important things happened to Company Q-8 hundreds of miles apart. While the active company along with alumni Jim Ridley '82, Paul Farinella '65, Tony Biello '74, James Cameron '68 (all Q-8 Alumni Assoiation Board of Trustees at the time), and Kaitlin Peterson '05 were busy pledgin in 5 new Q-8 members on Long Island, Q-8 Alumni Association Chairman Bill Wagner '78 and PR CO Commander William Cosgrove '06, were attending the PR National Convention (NATCON) in Daytona Beach Florida.
While at NATCON Bill Wagner addressed the assembly on the issue of forming a national alumni association in the same model as the 8th Regimental alumni association members of the Q8AA helped found. Bill Cosgrove, also a member of the national PR staff, was awarded the PR Gold Achievement Medal while his 1SGT Alex McHale, busy with his pledging duties was awarded the PR Silver Achievement Medal. Company Q-8 was also named the Most Improved Company in the nation for the 2007-2008 school year, all these awards will be presented at the Q-8 Company Dinner by the National Commander PR MG Chris Shuerman on March 29, 2008 in Plainview, NY.