The history of Detachment 607 consists of the unity of three college universities: Fayetteville State University, University of NC at Pembroke and Methodist College. These schools all serve educational needs for a specific community; FSU serving African Americans, UNCP serving Native Americans and Methodist College serving Christians. There are about 15,000 students combined between these three universities.
Fayetteville State University was founded in 1867 by seven black men – Matthew N. Leary, Andrew J. Chesnutt, Robert Simmons, George Grainger, Thomas Lomax, Nelson Carter, and David A. Bryant, making it the second oldest institution in North Carolina. These men paid $136 for two lots of land off Gillespie Street and Howard School was formed. By a legislative act in 1877, the North Carolina General Assembly chose the Howard School as an establishment of a Normal School for the education of Black teachers. Today Fayetteville State University is only one of eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities hosting an Air Force ROTC Detachment.
UNC Pembroke also has an interesting history. On March 7, 1887 the General Assembly of North Carolina enacted legislation, sponsored by Representative Hamilton McMillan of Robeson County, creating the Croatan Normal School, was in response to a petition from the Native American people of the area, established a Board of Trustees and appropriated $500 to be used only for salaries. The school opened with 15 students and one teacher in the fall of 1887. The normal school was founded to train Native American public school teachers. For many years, the instruction was at the elementary and secondary level, and the first diploma was awarded in 1905. In 1909, the school moved to its present location in Pembroke, the center of the Native American community.
In 1955, many citizens of Fayetteville, North Carolina began discussing the possibilities of a private institution. The Presbyterian Synod of North Carolina had just announced plans to build a four-year college somewhere in eastern North Carolina, which made many people hopeful that they make break ground in Fayetteville. After the Presbyterians selected Laurinburg as the site for their new college, the mayor of Fayetteville appointed the “Fayetteville College Steering Committee” to formulate a proposal for bringing a Methodist college to town. They were determined to fight for this college. The Fayetteville (later Methodist) College Foundation was created to secure pledges of land and money. During 1956 foundation leaders met with Bishop Paul Garber of the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Church and formally invited the conference to establish a four-year, coeducational college in Fayetteville. The group pledged 600 acres of land, $2 million for initial construction of the campus, and $50,000 annually for sustaining funds. The Conference accepted Fayetteville’s offer of $2 million for capital development and an annual sustaining fund that initially amounted to $180,000. In July 1956 the school was chartered by the state of North Carolina November 1, 1956 as a senior, coeducational, residential college of liberal arts and sciences. In September 1960 Methodist College opened for business with 88 full time students and 12 faculty members. Methodist College today serves approxiamtely 2,100 students. The college motto is “Veritas et Virtus” which in latin means “truth and virtue.”
In 1971, Dr. Charles Lyons Jr., the chancellor of Fayetteville State University was approached by some high school students who wanted to know why AFROTC was not at Fayetteville State University. Not knowing the answer, Lyons approached a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, Dr. William Bell, who was the university’s athletic director and asked him to research the possibility of getting AFROTC at FSU. Fortunately, Dr. Bell had served an active duty tour with the famed 99th Squadron while at Tuskegee Air Force Base during World War II as well at North Carolina A & T State University Air Force ROTC, so he knew exactly who to call. After receiving the chancellor’s permission, Bell contacted General Daniel “Chappie” James, the first African American General who was also a known football star at Tuskegee Institute. Once contacted Gen James called Mr. Frank Render a civilian aide in the Defense Department and explained to him that he would like to see a Senior Air Force ROTC unit at FSU. AFROTC officially activated 1 July 1973 per special order G-13 Department of the Air Force, HQ Air University, Maxwell AFB, Al, 16 March 1972. Humbly beginning with just 15 sophomore students, the program has expanded through the years covering three campuses with more than 400 officers commissioned over its 32-year history.