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6 October 2005

Gamecock Battalion Starts New Tradition

ROTC's school spirit rings loud and clear.

By Randy Wilson
JSU News Bureau

Should an opposing football team begin to feel railroaded at Paul Snow Stadium, at least they will have been warned first.

Jacksonville State University's ROTC Gamecock Battalion began a new tradition during the recent JSU vs. Eastern Kentucky football game.

A cadre of students from the battalion began ringing a locomotive bell as JSU's players marched onto the field at the beginning of the game and after every touchdown scored by JSU.

"The ROTC cadets wanted their own icon to represent the Department of Military Science," said Lt. Col. Henry "Chip" Hester, commander of the Gamecock Battalion. "The cadets also wanted to make a meaningful contribution to foster spirit at football games."

According to Hester, the cadets believe ringing the historic bell does both. The cadets worked diligently with the athletics department to integrate the bell as a part of the end zone celebrations during the game.

The bell is from a vintage locomotive. These bells were on early wood-burning engines, steam locomotives, and diesel locomotives. They are made of brass or bronze. The Federal Railroad Administration implemented these types of bells as a way to warn anyone near the tracks of an approaching train.

Lt. Gen. Ned Almond donated the bell to the department in 1979, shortly before he moved to San Antonio, Tex. Almond received the bell from Harry A. DeButts, president of Southern Railway System, in 1955. It was a house-warming gift for his home in Sunset Lodge, in Jacksonville, shortly after retiring from active military service.

Almond was the commander of the 10th U.S. Corps under General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War. Almond served under General MacArthur during World War II.

"We hope everyone will enjoy this bell at home football games and around campus," said Hester. "When they see it, perhaps they will think of JSU's Army ROTC cadets and the commitment they have made to our country."

For more information about the bell or the Gamecock Battalion, call Hester at (256)782-5601 or send email to

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