The history of CAPERS is slowly being discovered. I feel that we have gotten a lot from my time in CAPERS (1967-71) and before. Now it is time to start adding more from later years. If you can help us with a few memories and pictures, please help us.
The last date this was changed was May 2013.
The Beginnings of Kaydettes at the University of Oklahoma
In the late 1950's and into the 1960's, Pershing Rifles companies across the country started coed groups. I think it was because they wanted more girls around their ROTC buildings! In the Fall of 1963, one of the Pershing Rifles members of Company H-7 at the University of Oklahoma was telling one of his high school friends about military drill. She had enjoyed marching band and thought it would be fun to do military drill. The two of them approached an honorary sponsor, Carolyn Prescott about the idea. She liked it and the three of them judged the tryouts for the first Kaydettes drill team.
This are the first members of Kaydettes at the University of Oklahoma
The Idea of Starting a National Organization of Coed Groups
By the fall of 1965, the Kaydettes members started thinking that there should be a national organization for the coed groups affiliated with Pershing Rifles. Marilyn Blyth told me that the idea came from their advisor as a way of getting uniforms from the Army. The wrote a letter to Pershing Rifles National Headquarters asking for permission to explore the idea. They were given permission. They started contacting coed groups across the country while creating the structure of the organization. On January 1, 1966 they officially became a national organization under the supervision of Pershing Rifles Seventh Regimental Headquarters. At first the plan was to call the organization Kaydettes and the article for the 1966 Pershing Rifleman yearbook called them Kaydettes National Headquarters.
Kaydettes National Staff
CPT Dolores Marcotte, Chief of Staff, CPT Jeanne Strozier, PIO, LTC Marilyn Blythe, Deputy Commander, COL Gloria Robinson, National Commander, CPT Cheryl White, Adjutant, MAJ Tanya (McDonald) Miller, Training, CPT Sharon Richardson, Supply.
The Change From Kaydettes to CAPERS
At the Pershing Rifles Legislative Assembly in the Spring of 1964, the name of Coed Affiliates Pershing Rifles and nickname CAPERS were approved, as was a powder blue and white citation cord which P/R NHq had been selling since at least 1962.
NOTE: The organization has also called Coed Affiliates of Pershing Rifles because for some reason the printer of our membership shingles printed the "of" on them. The charters may have had it, too, but I haven't seen one since 1971! In the history written in 1967, the nick name was "CAPER" not "CAPERS". But I always remember hearing and saying "CAPERS".
The first Pershing Rifles National Convention attended by the new National Staff attended was the Spring Little National Convention (a non-drill meet year) in Colorado Springs, CO. At that convention they were recognized as the National Headquarters of CAPERS, but there were still had to be supervised by the Pershing Rifles Seventh Regimental Headquarters.
The 1966-1967 School Year
At the Pershing Rifles Fall National Convention on November 26, 1966, the Pershing Rifles National Commander, P/R MG James Belmont stated: "When CAPER was organized, it was understood that it was an independent organization which would govern itself with advice from Pershing Rifles." Since less than a year later when I was a pledge, I was told that was when the vote was taken to make us an official organization. Based on what I found out about the previous convention, that mean that we no longer had to work with Seventh Regimental Headquarters, but we able to function independently and report directly to Pershing Rifles National Convention.
CAPER COL Tanya (McDonald) Miller has always been called the first CAPER National Commander in 1967. She presided over the first CAPER National Convention in Washington, DC in the spring of 1967 in conjunctions with the Pershing Rifles National Convention and Drill Meet. Six CAPER Companies were present, as well as observers considering chartering with CAPERS. One of the votes taken at that convention was approving our royal blue and white membership cords. By the end of the school year 7 CAPER Companies had chartered. At the end of the school year, CAPER COL Gail (Todd) Kish took over command of the organization.
The 1967-1968 School Year
Fall 1967 National Staff and Pledges.
1st Row: Advisor, MAJ Long, Peggy (Horn) Booker (G-1), National Staff, Mary Ellen Hamilton, National Staff (G-3) and Pledge Trainer, Gail Kish, National Commander, Becky Boone (G-4), Kay Sykes, National Staff (probably Chief of Staff) and National Commander for last part of the year, Advisor, LT Seasholtz.
2nd Row: Bill Banks, P/R Liaison (National ?), Karen Sobel, Teresa Onyshczak, Claudia Dixon, Kathy Robertson, Brian Murphy, P/R Liaison (local ?)
3rd row: Patricia Evans, Linda Hallett, Linda Grissette, Eileen Beindorf, Terry Hunt, Judy Hobson, Susan Carlton.
When school started in 1967, there were 5 returning members of CAPER National Staff along with a large pledge class. Four CAPERS attended the Fall Pershing Rifles Little National Convention in Lincoln, Nebraska over the Thanksgiving week-end.
At the end of first semester, CAPER COL Kathryn (Kay) Sykes took over command.
The Pershing Rifles Spring National Convention was scheduled to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, but due to unrest in the area, the convention was moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. When Pershing Rifles National Headquarters received the registration materials they called to see why CAPER National had not registered. It was because the registration materials we're sent to CAPER National Headquarters or any of the CAPER companies. Because of that, no CAPER National Convention was held in 1968.
Spring 1968 Pledge Class Initiation
Left to Right: Gwen Coley, Nina Rose Jacoby, Pam Wright
The 1968-1969 School Year
Fall 1968 National Staff and Pledges.
Front Row: Iris Rodriquez, Kay Sykes, National Commander, Nina Rose Jacoby, Chief of Staff and Pledge Trainer, Linda Grissette, G-1
2nd Row: James Hamilton, P/R H-7 Liaison, Linda Turnbull, Sally Helmstetter, Pam Thrasher, Pam Srigley
3rd Row: Robert J. (Bobby) Kish, P/R National Liaison, Gail Cluck, Jamie White, Marianne Burke, Susan Puttroff, Advisor, MAJ Bell
When school started in 1968, there were 3 returning members of CAPER National Staff as well as a good pledge class. Four CAPERS again attended the Fall Pershing Rifles Little National Convention in Lincoln, Nebraska.
At the end of first semester, CAPER COL Nina Rose Jacoby took over command. In early March, CAPER National Headquarters was inspected by Pershing Rifles National Headquarters for the first time. At the end of the inspection the CAPER National Staff many things were not getting done. Shortly after the inspection, CAPER COL Gwen Coley took over the position of National Commander.
Thanks to Iris (Rodriguez) Fraticelli, we now have a picture taken during the first inspection mentioned above. My memory says that it was just before my birthday (March 4), so looking at a Perpetual Calendar on-line, the date would have been March 1, 1969.
Left to right: Iris (Rodriguez) Fraticelli (then G-4), Jim Condon (then PIO) and Dennis Lambert (then Deputy Commander)
The 1969 CAPER Convention was held in conjunction with Pershing Rifles Spring National Convention and Drill Meet in Cleveland, Ohio. There were 7 CAPER Companies in attendance, including one that was the newest company at the time. There was also a company that was in the processes of chartering that attended and participated in the discussions. CAPER Company A-5 won first place in the Coed Competition at the National Drill Meet.
The 1969-1970 School Year
Fall 1969 National Staff and Pledges.
1st Row: Advisor, MAJ Bell, Gwen Coley, National Commander, Iris Rodriguez, Chief of Staff (shortly after this, Iris became National Commander), Linda Grissette, G-1 (shortly after this, Linda became Chief of Staff and then later Deputy Commander)
2nd Row: Elaine Adams, Becky Smith, Jerry Walker, Carolyn Cothrum
3rd Row: Bonnie Gatewood, Gwen Howell, Paulette Kikugawa, Carol King, Joanne Hendershot
When school started in 1969, 3 CAPER National Staff members returned and, again, there was a good pledge class. The headquarters office had been moved over the summer and everything was a mess. Command problems caused the headquarters work to nearly stop, resulting in COL Coley's forced resignation on October 10, 1969. The CAPER Advisor from the ROTC Department named CAPER COL Iris (Rodriguez) Fraticelli to be the new commander. This was a challenging period for CAPERS but the hard work of COL Rodriguez and her Chief of Staff, LTC Linda Grissette, (that's me), got the headquarters going again and functioning properly. Until the pledges could be trained, COL Rodriguez also worked as Finance Officer, G-2 PIO, G-3 and Pledge Trainer. LTC Grissette also worked at G-1, G-2 Expansion, and G-4. The work backlog was cleared up and the pledges were trained.
During the Fall Semester, CAPER National Headquarters received a letter from P/R COL Robert Shelton, the Pershing Rifles Fourth Regimental Commander from Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina. COL Shelton was appointing a CAPER Coordinator, Pam Craft for his regiment who would be attached to their headquarters. Pam was quickly named to CAPER National Staff. They were sent copies of all expansion materials and given permission to copy them at any time. A letter was sent to the other regiments suggesting they do the same thing. Putting some of the expansion responsibilities at the Pershing Rifles Regimental level gave greater opportunities for personal contact for expansion.
The Pershing Rifles Fall 1969 Little National Convention was attended by COL Rodriguez, LTC Grissette and 2 of the pledges (Paulette Kikugawa and Caroll Webster). At that convention, COL Rodriguez talked with Pershing Rifles National Staff about dividing CAPERS into Regiments so that the work load could be lessened for National Staff. The organization had grown entirely too much to be run by a small staff.
At the Fall Little National Convention, the Pershing Rifles 17th Regimental Commander (17th Regiment covered Texas and New Mexico at that time) invited representatives from CAPER National Staff to attend their Fall Regimental Drill Meet in Wichita Falls, Texas a week or two later. One company in their regiment had recently chartered and two others of them were in the process.
When CAPER National Commanders Became Brigadier Generals instead of Colonels
On February 20, 1970, Pershing Rifles National Staff again inspected CAPER National Headquarters. When the Pershing Rifles National Staff arrived, P/R BG James Condon, Deputy Commander, went in for a meeting with the Professor of Military Science. A few minutes later, the rest of the PR National Inspection Team and all of the CAPER National Staff that were there were called into the PMS's office. BG Condon then read an order signed by the P/R MG Dennis Lambert, their National Commander, promoting COL Rodriguez to BG because of the growth of CAPERS. LTC Grissette was promoted to COL and named the first CAPER Deputy Commander. New CAPER LTC Paulette Kikugawa became the Chief of Staff.
The Surprise Promotion
After the promotion we went into the Army bay where the clean up from the annual blood drive was taking place. Jim Condon jumped on one of the tables and pretended to be giving blood and we all joined in the fun.
In the Picture:
P/R BG James Condon, CAPER BG Iris (Rodriguez) Fraticelli and the OU Army PMS COL Leroy C. Land
In the picture besides Jim: Jerry Walker, Bill Callahan (our National Liaison), P/R MAJ James Radcliff, Becky Smith, Joanne Hendershot, Paulette (Kikugawa) Lum, Iris Rodriguez. Outside of the camera range: Linda Grissette (me) and P/R COL Monte Fellingham. I'm sure there were other CAPERS there, too.
The 1970 CAPER National Convention was held in conjunction with the Pershing Rifles Spring Little National Convention (no drill meet) in San Antonio, Texas. Again, four members of CAPER National Staff attended. While BG Rodriguez ran the CAPER Convention, COL Grissette attended the PR Convention as an observer. CAPER Awards were presented for the first time at any National Convention Banquet. COL Grissette had encouraged the companies to nominate members for awards and made all the award arrangements, but Linda was totally surprised when BG Rodriguez gave an award (my memory says it was the Red Rose Award) to LTC Kikugawa. She was even more surprised when BG Rodriguez gave her both the Yellow Rose Award and Distinguished Service Award.
Soon after the convention, BG Rodriguez announced that the next commander would not just be appointed. To make sure as many members as possible returned, she asked each of the active members to name who they wanted to be National Commander. At the pledge initiation dinner, BG Rodriguez gave the first ever CAPER National Commander's Award to COL Grissette. Shortly after that, she named the new National Commander, CAPER BG Linda Grissette and the new Deputy Commander, CAPER COL Paulette Kikugawa. Later, the new Chief of Staff was named, CAPER LTC Gwen Howell.
Linda's Promotion Picture for OU newspaper
Left to right: Linda Grissette, CPT William Homes, our advisor, LTC Ormondo Carrillo, the ROTC Adjutant and Iris (Rodriguez) Fraticelli.
This picture is from Iris and I think that it was taken just prior to the one on the left. We are in the PMS office and our uniforms and hair is the same. Also, you can see my white National Staff cord that we rarely wore on campus.
The 1970-1971 School Year
Fall 1970 National Staff and Pledges.
1st Row: Carol Perkins, Paulette Kikugawa, Deputy Commander, Jessie Elder, G-3
2nd Row: Leslie Singer, G-1 and local commander, Yolanda Scott, Linda Grissette, National Commander
3rd Row: Carlos Droescher, P/R National Liaison, Sharon Fancey, Kay Johnson, Gwen Howell, Chief of Staff
When school started in 1970, all three of the new command staff returned, but the headquarters office had been moved again. This year the first thing the staff did was paint the room and get it set up better than ever.
Once the office was in shape, BG Grissette got started with the task of figuring out where the regimental boundaries should be and what companies would get the CAPER Regimental Headquarters. To learn how it was done, see the page about our Regiments. The next step was to completely rewrite and reorganize the CAPER SOP.
One memory I have of that year was that I worked hard to make improvements in CAPERS. When I received a binder of CAPER documents and letters, I learned a lot more about what I hadn't remembered. The improvements were cutting the paperwork and consolidating forms. I learned that the PMS at the University of Oklahoma sent a letter the the Pershing Rifles National Headquarters recommending that CAPERS be ended. I conducted a study that showed that our members felt that the national organization was important to them. By the end of the study, I had begun to get the support of the PMS. I'm sure CAPERS had been a shock to him when he came to our Army ROTC department the year before. Then second semester a girl by the name of Mack LaFluer signed up for ROTC and shocked the cadre when a girl showed up. After that, she pledged CAPERS. That didn't help our standing with him. I'm glad I worked hard to change his attitude.
Some of Spring 1971 National Staff
Front Row: John O'Dell, our local liaison, Gwen Howell Kelly, Linda Grissette (Grayson), Paulette Kikugawa Lum. Back row: Jessie Elder, Kay Johnson, Sharon Fancey.
The 1971 CAPER National Convention was held in conjunction with the Pershing Rifles Spring National Convention and Drill Meet in Atlanta, Georgia at the Dinkler Plaze Hotel on April 9. Four CAPER National Staff members flew to Atlanta because of the distance. The convention was set up with 3 different committees for the first time (just like P/Rs), which brought forward motions to the floor of the convention the next day. This was the first time this procedure was used at a CAPER Convention. The committees were Supply-Finance (Chaired by COL Ingrid Lindberg, 5th Regimental Commander), Operations-Policies (chaired by COL Debby McConihay, 1st Regimental Commander and COL Mary Smith, 6th Regimental Commander) and Expansion (COL Georgia Hunter, 4th Regimental Commander).
Units attending the 1971 Convention were Company N-1, Company C-4, Company L-4, Company P-4, Company A-5, Company B-5, Company H-7, Company B-9, and Company M-16. COL McConihay and the other member of 1st Regimental staff who attended were very dedicated CAPERS. They attended the convention instead of attending the wedding of one of their sisters and regimental staffer, Edith Dodd who married P/R Harold Hawver that day!!!
Another new procedure, also taken from Pershing Rifles, was a commanders call after the actual convention electing the new National Commander. But unlike the PR convention that went on all day (while the drill meet was going on), the CAPER Convention was adjourned before noon, so that all CAPERS could compete in or watch the coed division of the drill meet.
Despite the fact that the drill meet was open to to all coed group, the CAPER participation was up to over 50% and our companies received two of the three trophies. Company G-4 was 1st place and Company K-8 was 3rd place.
That night at the Banquet, BG Grissette gave COL Kikugawa the National Commander's Award and then named the newly elected CAPER National Commander, CAPER BG Paulette (Kikugawa) Lum.
The 1971-1972 School Year
When school started in 1971, there were very few CAPERS remaining. BG Kikugawa and her Deputy Commander, CAPER COL Gwen Howell worked hard, but eventually the decision was made that the CAPER National Headquarters would be moved due to lack of staff. BG Kikugawa could not bear to be the one to do that, so she turned the command over to CAPER BG Gwen (Howell) Kelly who then arranged for moving the headquarters to Kansas State University. They don't remember the actual date of transfer, but it was in 1972. The history received from Pershing Angels gave the date as February 5, 1972.
From here on we don't have much details of our history and would love to add more as other alumni start recording their memories, too.
CAPER National Headquarters at Kansas State University
The national staff at Kansas State University was staffed by all of the CAPERS there, with 17 staff members. There are two pictures on their page that have 17 CAPERS on a drill team and I think that was their first national staff. The first national commander was CAPER BG Susan Linholm.
1972-73 School Year
In April 1972, CAPER BG Rhonda (McGuire) McCommons was elected National Commander for the 1972-73 school year. At the Spring National Convention, there was a CAPER National Drill Meet for the first time with CAPER trophies.
1973-74 School Year
In April 1973, CAPER BG Elizabeth Cramer was elected National Commander for the 1973-74 school year.
1974-75 School Year
We don't know the name of the National Commander, but in talking to the Pershing Rifles National Commander for that year, we know that the National Headquarters was still at Kansas State University, because he married the CAPER Deputy Commander.
CAPER National Headquarters at Auburn University
1975-76 School Year
There are is no record of the National Commander for that year.
1976-77 School Year
The 1976-77 National Commander was CAPER BG Karin Daniel.
1977-78 School Year
1978 National Staff (we think)
I have this picture from two sources:
1) The front of the binder of CAPER letters and documents found in the P/R archives in Lincoln has this picture. The binder seems to have been assembled in 1978 and CAPER BG Debra Michalik's name was found there.
2) The Pershing Rifles Group Historian, Kevin Born (the 1978-79 P/R National Commander) was digging through some of his "stuff" and found a copy of this picture, scanned it and sent it to me.
I'm assuming that the CAPER in the center front it Debra Michailik.
The 1977-78 National Commander was CAPER BG Debra Michalik.
CAPER National Headquarters at Appalachian State University.
The headquarters was moved there in 1978 and the National Commander there for 1978-79 was CAPER BG Susan B. Rice. I haven't yet found Susan, but did find an alumnae who pledged when she was commander and who remembers her as a very special person.
CAPER National Headquarters at Seton Hall University
The headquarters was moved to Seton Hall University in 1979, even thought the history from Pershing Angels said 1981 See the reason below.
1979-80 School Year
When I first started hunting for CAPER alumni, the Pershing Rifles Alumni Association from Seton Hall sent me the e-mail addresses for several CAPER alumni. Later I learned that one of them was the National Commander for the 1979-80 school year, CAPER BG Cheryl Beers-Cullan. Cheryl told me that she had no knowledge of the order sent out by Pershing Rifles National Headquarters (see below on the official end of CAPERS).
1980-81 School Year
The National Commander for the 1980-81 School Year was CAPER BG Sharon Sanders.
1981-82 School Year
The National Commander for the 1981-82 School Year was CAPER BG Shirley Jones.
The official end of Coed Affiliates Pershing Rifles
We have been told that because of declining membership, the Pershing Rifles Constitution was change, dropping the requirement for members to be ROTC Cadets, thus allowing for civilian members. I don't know when that happend. I've been told that in 1980, an order was written telling all Pershing Rifles companies to take their CAPERS into their Pershing Rifles company.
The order was not followed universally and, from what we have heard, CAPER National Headquarters didn't hear about it until the end of 1982. We hope to eventually to find some alumni who can give us even more details.
No matter when it happened, the order effectively merged the two organizations, making all CAPER Alumni Pershing Rifles Alumni.
But this was really not the end!
CAPERS have a wonderful legacy. The legacy is all of the civilian and female members of Pershing Rifles today.
But there is another legacy of CAPERS. Although some of the CAPER Companies may have merged into their Pershing Rifles Companies during the early 1980's, some of them did not. They changed their name to Pershing Angels, which was the most popular local name of CAPER Companies.
Here is the story of what happened after 1982
Pershing Angels National Headquarters at St. Peters College
I was finally able to get more information on this period when Irene (Rodriguez) Lee came to this website on May 1, 2010. Irene told me that in 1985, some girls from Seton Hall brought them a box of CAPER National Headquarters stuff to them, promising to bring another one later, but they never brought it. I'm not sure what happened between 1982 and 1985 at Seton Hall, but hope to find out some day.
Irene told me that they were called CAPERS locally, but the national name was Pershing Angels. I'm sure it was very confusing for anyone looking back on that period. Why? Because the box they got from Seton Hall included CAPER membership cards and shingles. Because of lack on money, they used those materials for those 3 years. I've talked to one Pershing Angels alumnae who has a CAPER membership card! Irene also gave the name names and years of the Commanders at St. Peters College.
The National Commander for 1985 was Pershing Angels BG Fran (Lopes) Steffens.
The National Commander for 1986 was Pershing Angels BG Irene (Rodriguez) Lee.
The National Commander for 1987 was Pershing Angels BG Madeline Colon.
For a period of two or three years there was no national organization and the remaining companies existed independently.
The current Pershing Angels Organization
On November 3, 1990 in Atlanta, Georgia, the National Society of Pershing Angels held a conference at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center. The National Headquarters was reorganized with Pershing Angels BG Lisa Cannon becoming National Commander with the headquarters in Atlanta. Lisa was National Commander until 1992.
Note: Pershing Angels no longer has actives running the National Staff, as history proves that it is too hard for actives to keep their local organization going while still running the organization. The National Staff is now all alumni members.
In 1992 the National Headquarters was moved to Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Pershing Angels BG Tiji Murphy-Hipp was the National Commander form 1992 to 1996.
In 1997 the National Headquarters was moved to Howard University in Washington, DC. Pershing Angels BR Adrian Pugh was the National Commander from 1997 to 1998. Note: It was Adrian who gave me the Pershing Angels history in 1999. Pershing Angles BG Latonja Estelle was National Commander from 1998 to 2000.
In 2000, the National Headquarters was moved to Norfolk State University. Pershing Angels BG Michelle Richardson was the National Commander from 2000 to 2002.
In 2002, the National Headquarters was moved back to Morgan State University. Pershing Angel BG Wanda Green (who pledged CAPERS in 1977) became the National Commander and retired in 2010. I haven't gotten the name of the new Pershing Angels National Commander yet or the location of the headquarters.
Every alumni of CAPERS and Pershing Angels will be proud to know that 7 CAPER Companies still exist as Pershing Angels Companies. Those include Florida State University, Morgan State University, Tuskegee University, North Caroline A & T University, Norfolk State University, Hampton University, and South Carolina State University. I've heard that a few of these died out and had to be restarted, while some have continued over the years. There are also Pershing Angel Companies at Howard University, Virginia State University, and Lincoln University.
For the first time since the end of CAPERS, Pershing Angels had their National Convention at NATCON 2012 in Baltimore. I got to meet a lot of CAPER and Pershing Angels alumni and Pershing Angels Actives. When the Pershing Rifles Nation Commander called Pershing Angels "Our sister organization" at the Formal Dinner, I was holding back the tears.
At the same time, every CAPER alumni should also be proud of all the civilian and female members of Pershing Rifles over the years.
Yes, Coed Affiliates Pershing Rifles has an amazing legacy, and we should all work to make sure that we are remembered.
If you are interested in learning more details (and emotions) about CAPER history, go to our page about Saving Our CAPER history. We are hoping that more and more people will contribute to that page. If that produces any changes in our knowledge of CAPER history, this page will be changed.
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The creator of this website, Linda Grissette (the 1970-71 CAPER National Commander) is not asking for any money to help support this project. Her reward will be finding people she remembers and learning about other former members memories. If you appreciate the effort, please use her for all of real estate needs. If you aren't in the St. Louis area where she works, she can find a great agent in your area and will receive a small referral fee. Contact Linda about real estate. See Linda's main real estate website.