The Pershing Rifles, a military drill team organization for college-level students, was founded by then 2nd Lt. (later General of the Armies) John J. Pershing in 1894 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Over time, the Pershing Rifles organization was adopted by several other universities as well to include tactical units as well as drill and ceremony. Together, these units form what is known today as the National Society of Pershing Rifles. (Horn, Geoffrey M., Colin Powell, Gareth Stevens, 2004, ISBN 0836852672, page 18.)
Regimental Headquarters was chartered on March 19th, 1946. This regiment, located at Clemson University, is the largest of all nine. It has more than 26 units from seven different states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. This regiment also has companies in Puerto Rico. The proficiency with which Fourth Regimental Headquarters coordinates its companies and adheres to the policies of the National Society is shown by its standing in the National Competition for Best Regiment.
Company C of the Fourth Regiment was founded at Clemson University in 1939 by the authority of National Headquarters. Immediately upon acceptance of the charter, Company C-4 began its quest for excellence - a quest that will never cease.
As a result of war, the company became inactive and was forced to take a semi-active role on campus between 1944 and 1948. This semi-active role included drilling weekly and participating in some school events. In 1955, the company began to establish itself as a champion by winning the Regimental Drill Meet. These regimental victories were repeated year after year, and it wasn't until 1966, after eleven years, that the company's winning streak was broken.
2008 marked another great milestone for the company; this was the year that the company won the National Drill Meet held in Washington DC. This victory was repeated the following year when the company returned to Clemson with the Shaefer Cup. The company's victories at the National Drill Meet began to fall off after 1957. Company C-4, however, still remained the undisputed champion of the Fourth Regiment.
In 1962, the company broadened their competitiveness by entrain and winning the Pershing Rifles National Postal Rifle Match. Also, in the same year, the Pershing Rifles Pledge Platoon was established with 1LT R.H. Herron as first commander. The platoon was designed to better familiarize the cadets with the traditions and organization of the company. The new pledge system proved to be highly effective in the years that followed.
The following year marked tragedy for the drill unit. While crossing the road in route to the practice area, the Pledge Platoon was struck by an automobile , knocking down the majority of the platoon. In the mayhem that followed, it was discovered that many were injured. One of the pledges, PR Cadet Bruce Knight, was seriously injured, dying on the following day. During the accident, Knight, although seriously injured, aided the pledge commander in the instruction of the pledges. His devotion exemplified the perfect Pershing Rifleman. As a result of his actions, the Bruce Knight award was established in his memory.
In 1964, Company C-4 brought home the George A. Douglas trophy for being the most outstanding company in the Fourth Regiment. By this year the company had established itself as the most consistent winner of events at Clemson University. These Victories not only covered drill, but other competitions as well.
The year 1967 marked another first for Company C-4 when the Clemson University invitational Drill Meet was organized under the direction of 1LT J.M. Hudgens , Jr., Executive Officer of C-4. Company C-4 won this drill meet under the command of CPT Ivan F. Kelly III.
In 1983, the company, commanded by CPT Henry P. Gaines, Jr., brought home the Douglas trophy -- the most coveted trophy in the 4th Regiment -- for the second time. The following year, Company C-4 placed second in the Southeastern Regional Drill Meet. In 1977, the Douglas trophy was returned to Clemson after a brief one year absence. The company had won the trophy for three consecutive years preceding 1976, retiring the trophy in 1975 for the first and only time.
In 1983, Company C-4 won its fifth Douglas trophy. The following year, the company entered the National Drill Meet, but due to small membership numbers, they were only able to obtain a third place Color Guard trophy. After several years of being absent from the field, Company C-4 returned to competition at the 1986 Regimental Drill Meet. This year they only took 1st and 3rd place in Fancy Individual competition.
Company C-4 won its 6th Douglas trophy in 1987, proclaiming it the best company in the 4th Regiment. They also won the Regimental Drill Meet in 1988 and 1990. The Regimental Drill Meet in 1991 was almost canceled due to the conflict in Saudi Arabia. However, the companies that were present forced the drill meet to continue. Company C-4 did not win the drill meet, but managed to take two first place events. The National Drill Meet was not as lucky since it was canceled.
Continuing its excellence, the company competed in the National and Regimental Drill Meets in 1992. Company C-4 placed 1st in Color Guard, 3rd in Fancy Individual and IDR individual and Fancy Duet in the Regimental Meet.
In March of 1999, Company C-4 went to the national drill meet and won overall first place along with the following awards: 1st place inspection, 1st place fancy squad, 1st place regulation squad, 2nd, 3rd and 5th in IDR Knockout, 1st and 3rd in fancy individual, best commander, and best company.
Over the years since 1939, Company C-4 has established an unparalleled record of achievement. Each past company has contributed to the reputation and success of the unit -- as will each successive unit. Although small in number, Company C-4 will always continue to strive for excellence in all it does.
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