History of the Co-Ed Affiliates of Pershing Rifles (CAPERS)
Over the years various women’s auxiliaries to Pershing Rifles were formed at the local level. One of the earliest coed group know to be associated with Pershing Rifles was the Cadence Countesses established at the University of Nebraska in 1959.
In 1963 women at the University of Oklahoma asked to start a female drill group affiliated with Pershing Rifles Company H-7. This led to the formation of the Kaydettes drill team. By the fall of 1965, the Kaydettes members thought that there should be a national level organization for coed groups affiliated with Pershing Rifles. They petitioned the National Headquarters of Pershing Rifles in Lincoln, Nebraska and were given permission to establish such an organization. They then contacted existing coed groups across the country to start the foundation for a nationwide organization.
On January 1, 1966 the Kaydettes were established as the national female auxiliary for Pershing Rifles under the supervision of the Seventh Regimental Headquarters. However the Kaydettes name was not acceptable because it would cause already established coed groups to change the unique names of their local units. So on November 26 1966, at the Pershing Rifles Fall Little National Convention the organization’s name was changed to the Coed Affiliates Pershing Rifles (CAPERS) and came under the direct supervision of Pershing Rifles National Headquarters.
The first CAPERS National Convention was held in Washington DC in the spring of 1967 in conjunction with the Pershing Rifles National Convention and Drill Meet. Five CAPERS Companies were present, as well as observers from universities considering charting with CAPERS. By the end of the 1967 school year seven companies had been chartered with CAPERS. By 1968 the number of chartered companies had doubled to 14.
In 1969, several CAPERS Regiments were established and they aligned with existing Pershing Rifles Regiments which provided some oversight. Establishment of CAPER Regiments allowed for more concentration on unit expansion and better support to local CAPERS Companies. That same year, Colonel Iris Rodriguez was promoted to CAPER Brigadier General to elevate her to a rank above that of the regimental commanders.
On February 5, 1972 CAPERS Headquarters moved to the Kansas State University. At this time the National Staff consisted of 17 officers which had oversight for 4 Regiments and 35 Companies. At the 1973 National Convention CAPERS held a separate drill meet for the first time.
The U.S. Armed Forces move towards fully integrating women signaled the beginning of the end of the CAPERS organization. By the mid 1970s, female student were able to take Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) classes at their universities and soon were able to join Pershing Rifles. Around that same time Pershing Rifles units started allowing non-ROTC cadets to join. Eventually Pershing Rifles Companies integrated CAPERS members into their organization. Although the exact date is unknown the CAPERS was disbanded in the early 1980s.
The National Society of Pershing Angels was founded at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland on February 9, 1965 as the sister unit to the National Society of Pershing Rifles. When the Coed Affiliates of Pershing Rifles (CAPERS) was formed most Pershing Angels units became part of the CAPERS organization. When CAPER units disbanded in the 1980s the Pershing Angel’s continued as a collegiate social organization which promotes drill, leadership, and community service.