Aggie Memorial Tower
The original Aggie Memorial Stadium was built in memory of the first 126 Aggie soldiers who were killed in action during World War II. This was a wonderful tribute, one which was remembered and cherished for many years.
The Aggie Memorial Committee - composed of New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (as NMSU was formerly known) faculty, students, alumni, and Las Cruces business owners - spent more than four years in deliberation before finally accepting the tower-stadium as an appropriate memorial to Aggie war dead.
Foremost consideration of the committee was the selection of a memorial which would appropriately honor the Aggie war dead and the then 2125 alumni and former students who were in the services of the United States. At the same time, the memorial had to be a living monument - something which could be used for generations to come; something to perpetuate the memory of those who contributed so much. The committee felt that any memorial which did less would slight those who were to be honored.
The Group Life Council met after the attack at Pearl Harbor and discussed the building of a memorial for the school. At that time the only memorial on campus was the one to Hiram Hadley, NMA&M's first President, which once stood in front of the former Hadley Hall. Dean O'Donnell, then Dean of Students, appointed a committee with Professor W. Earl Beem as chairman, for the purpose of drawing up plans for a memorial building. Other permanent members of the committee were Miss Era Rentfrow, registrar of the college, the editor of the "Round-Up", and the president of the Student Commission. Money donated to this fund was turned into war bonds. Drives for money were not inaugurated at that time. In 1946 the committee began a concerted drive to get donations with a goal of $165,000, a little less than the actual cost of the stadium. The committee had expanded by this time and an all-out effort was made to receive contributions and obtain pledges for their goal.
The outstanding feature of the stadium was (and still is) Memorial Tower. This structure, built on the west side of the stadium, housed the original Memorial Room in which pictures, plaques, and records of the then 119 Aggie war dead. Electric chimes were placed in the tower and were used for playing melodies on holidays and for the daily campus call-to-classes. The current Aggie Memorial Room, which also functions as a study lounge, still features the images of the Aggie war dead.
Directly above the memorial room there two press boxes, the upper for radio and lower for the newspaper and publicity men. These provided New Mexico A&M with some of the finest press facilities in the state during that time.
On September 16, 1950, the completed stadium and tower were dedicated and officiated by President Branson before the football game between the New Mexico Aggies and the Hardin Simmons Cowboys.
The original Aggie Memorial Stadium was eventually torn down, however, the tower was left intact. It was renovated in 2003 during the construction of the Health and Social Services Building and rededicated on March 8, 2004 with Dean Jeffery E. Brandon officiating and esteemed alumni joining such as: Representative J. Paul Taylor '42, '54, & '63 (USN) and Colonel J. Henry Gustafson '40 (USMC).
Memorial Tower stands as a vital center for academics and as a living tribute to those Aggies who laid down their lives for their country, and is still used for annual events by the Alumni Association and the College of Health and Social Services.