Team 550- Forging Warrior Leaders

Detachment 550 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was established in 1949, only 2 years after the Army Air Corps officially became its own military branch, the United States Air Force. The detachment, under the command of Major Edward M. Rex, organized around 97 cadets. Air Force ROTC was the last of the three branches to be represented on campus, but by 1950 the total number of cadets in the wing had increased to 264. In order to meet the demands of a rapidly growing detachment, the cadre grew to 7 officers and 6 enlisted airmen. In 1952, a marching band of 30 AFROTC cadets was formed, complementing the existing Drum-and-Bugle Corps. Since its earlier days, Detachment 550 has fluctuated in numbers according to the need and support for military members and organizations.This content will show up directly in its container.

Commander's Welcome

Welcome to the Air Force Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 550, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY. Detachment 550 serves as the “host” unit for cadets at 22 regional cross-town colleges and universities. We have a proud heritage of “forging warrior leaders” beginning with the first commissioning class in 1949 and subsequently commissioning over thirteen hundred second lieutenants in the last 65 years. We offer you an opportunity to become a part of our legacy and a professional officer in the United States Air Force. Our program emphasizes the Air Force Core Values… “integrity first,” “service before self,” and “excellence in all we do.” AFROTC gives you the opportunity to stretch yourself, to step out of your comfort zone and gain leadership experience. The cadet wing at Detachment 550 is entirely cadet run with the cadre providing instruction, oversight, and mentorship. Our cadets learn about the foundations of the Air Force, air and space power history, leadership fundamentals, and national security affairs in a classroom setting while developing and practicing their leadership techniques during weekly cadet-run “leadership laboratories.” Our active duty cadre members are proven Air Force professionals in their fields and have been competitively selected to teach and mentor the next generation of Air Force leaders. We are proud to guide you through the process of earning a commission in the United States Air Force. The Air Force offers scholarships to high-quality high school seniors whose leadership potential and planned major fields of study meet Air Force accession objectives. Please visit for more information.
John E. Bales, Lt Col, USAF Commander