October 1951 saw 267 freshmen chosen from more than 450 applicants to represent the first class of the newly established AFROTC unit. The first commander of Detachment 340 was Col James T. Murray, who is the namesake of the Arnold Air Society Squadron. In November of this same year, the color guard was formed. The subsequent November produced the first joint (Air Force/Navy) military ball, which was held at the Holy Cross field house.
In 1952, Air University assumed responsibility for the AFROTC program that consisted of four-year programs at 188 academic institutions.
In December 1956, top cadets (Category 1) were introduced to flying in their senior year through pilot training programs, resulting in the issuance of a private pilot’s license.
An experimental program to commission women through AFROTC was first conducted from 1956 to 1960. After eight more years of male-only AFROTC, women were again allowed to enroll in the senior program in 1969 and into the junior program four years later. Detachment 340 enrolled its first two female cadets in 1972. Since then, the number of women in Detachment 340 has increased steadily and their presence has contributed greatly to the success of the program.
The 1960’s continued to generate a number of changes to Detachment 340. In October 1962, it had the largest corps of cadets in its history with 247 registered cadets, representing the fourth largest enrollment in the nation that year. In January 1963, Cadet Richard D. Brown was awarded the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross of Achievement. This was the highest award given in AFROTC at the time and was presented by a group of Medal of Honor recipients.
One major transformation to the entire AFROTC program was the implementation of President Lyndon B. Johnson's ROTC Vitalization Act in 1964. This Act permitted the Air Force to award college scholarships. In July 1965, as a direct result of this act, six cadets received full tuition scholarships totaling $1975.
1972 saw the first official dining-in being held as well as the initial Commissioning ceremony. In 1973, the College of the Holy Cross became a member of the Worcester Consortium. This allowed students from nine other colleges in the Consortium to participate in AFROTC.
Throughout the 1980’s, the Detachment continued to flourish and in November 1992 it earned its 2nd consecutive Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, becoming the first unit in the nation to receive successive awards.
The most recent major change for Detachment 340 occurred in the spring of 1990. It was then that Detachment 340 transferred from Holy Cross over to Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Today, AFROTC is under the supervision of the Air Education and Training Command, and holds a mission to develop quality leaders for the Air Force. The senior program is conducted at 144 institutions throughout the continental US, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Also, students from colleges located near these host AFROTC institutions can attend AFROTC classes through approximately 1000 cross-town enrollment programs or consortium agreements. Additionally, Air Force Junior ROTC (AFJROTC) programs provide citizenship training and an aerospace education program at 869 secondary high schools throughout the nation and at selective US dependent schools in Europe and Guam.
The senior program provides professional training for university students who desire to be Air Force officers. In a partnership arrangement, the university educates the students and grants them a degree; the AFROTC detachment ensures students have the knowledge and the capability to apply their degree within the Air Force.
Since Detachment 340 began, there have been more than 600 Air Force officers trained and commissioned. This academic year, there are over 50 cadets currently enrolled from schools throughout the Worcester Consortium.