West Point Magazine Winter 2024

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In This Issue: Cutting-Edge Classes The Warrants of West Point

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A Publication of the West Point Association of Graduates


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Faculty and Cadets Embrace Innovation, Technology, and the Future of National Defense

Check out the cutting-edge work and research that West Point cadets and faculty are doing that will impact the Army and the nation in the future.

26 The Warrants of West Point

Warrant Officers are few and far between at West Point, but those of the 2nd Aviation Detachment are making the most of their select interactions with cadets.

34 Army Women’s Soccer: Keeping the Momentum Going 38 Carving Paths and Paying it Forward

A look at what six young “Old Grads” from the classes of 2010 to 2021 have been doing since graduation and how are they’re contributing to the Army and the nation. On the cover: Cadets in SP473: Observational Astronomy conduct an astronomy lab at South Dock. The course emphasizes data analysis and statistics, geometrical and physical optics of telescopes, time systems, catalogs, and images obtained by telescopes equipped with light detectors. Photo: Rebecca Rose/WPAOG.



Photo: Rebecca Rose/WPAOG

The members of the Army West Point Women’s Soccer Team believe that they have found a winning strategy: it brought them a Patriot League regular-season title in 2022, another one in 2023, and they are confident it’ll continue to bring success in 2024 and beyond.


The mission of West Point magazine is to tell the West Point story and strengthen the grip of the Long Gray Line.


Publisher West Point Association of Graduates Colonel Mark D. Bieger ’91 (Retired) President & CEO A position generously endowed by the Honorable & Mrs. Robert A. McDonald ’75 Editor in Chief Jaye Donaldson | editor@wpaog.org Managing Editor Keith J. Hamel Editorial Advisory Group Desrae Gibby ’91 Terence Sinkfield ’99 Patrick Ortland ’82 Samantha Soper Creative Director/Design Marguerite Smith Content Keith Hamel, WPAOG staff Erika Norton , WPAOG staff Rebecca Rose, WPAOG staff CPT Madison Daugherty ’19, Guest Author CPT Brian Gerardi ’13, Guest Author Martin H. “Jay” Joyce ’74, Guest Author Christina Kretchman ’99, Guest Author

34 4

From the President

5 Attention! Troop the Line Adjutant’s Call Core of the Corps The Four Pillars

58 Mailbox 60 Class “Quotes” 62 Be Thou at Peace 63 Past in Review

Photos: Army West Point Athletics Department; submitted

Address Updates West Point Association of Graduates ATTN: Data Services Team 698 Mills Road, West Point, NY 10996-1607 845.446.1644 | address@wpaog.org Memorial Article Manager Marilee Meyer HON ’55, ’56, ’62, ’66 and ’70 845.446.1545 | memorials@wpaog.org

32 Poster 43 Forward March Serving the Nation Gripping Hands WPAOG News We Serve You Eyes Right (R) Recognition

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WPAOG programs, including communications, are made possible by William D. Mounger, Class of 1948.

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Opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, policy, or attitude of the U.S. Army, United States Military Academy, West Point Association of Graduates, its officers, or the editorial staff. The appearance of advertisements in this publication does not necessarily constitute an endorsement by the U.S. Army, United States Military Academy, West Point Association of Graduates, its officers, or the editorial staff for the products or services advertised.

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This time of year is very special at West Point. The weather is cold, often with snow and ice on the ground, and the sky is typically cloudy and gray. Cadets, faculty, and staff have returned from winter break and are immersed in their studies, Arvin Gymnasium is full from 5:30 in the morning till late in the evening, and the IOCT seems to be in constant use for training or testing. Many have referred to this as the “gloom period,” but I would offer a slightly different perspective. This, the beginning of the calendar year and the midpoint of the academic year, is a time for focus, teamwork, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. It’s a time when all of us can apply greater attention to what’s important and what matters most. It’s also a time to realize that our best performance and most meaningful achievements are those done with a great team. And, finally, excellence can and should be our expectation, no matter the task, no matter how difficult. Here at the West Point Association of Graduates, we’re committed to excellence in everything we do. We have 128 employees dedicated to our Mission “to serve West Point and the Long Gray Line” and to our Vision “for the Long Gray Line to be the most highly connected alumni body in the world.” Our employees come from all over the nation, many are graduates themselves, and some have spent careers around the military and some as military spouses. All are committed to excellence, working very hard to make your Association better every single day.

Last month, in Boston and Foxborough, the Long Gray Line was on full display. Classes, Societies, graduates, families, and friends gathered for the annual Army-Navy Football Game and cheered Coach Monken and his team—who were honoring the 3rd Infantry Division with grit, determination, discipline, and an iron will—on to victory. But what occurred in Massachusetts was something bigger than football. We gathered to enjoy and celebrate each other: the memories we’ve made, the service and sacrifice we’ve shared, and the future we will help shape. We’ll gather again in a few months to celebrate our beloved alma mater at Founders Day events around the world. In closing, you might sense that something is different about this issue of West Point magazine. After 13 years, we’re no longer doing themed articles and instead have introduced two new departments: Attention! and Forward March. The first includes stories about the Academy and the Corps of Cadets, and the latter includes stories pertaining to the Long Gray Line and articles about events and services related to the West Point Association of Graduates. If you have story ideas for these new departments (e.g. a son or daughter doing something amazing in the Corps, a young officer making a unique impact on the Army, or an “Old Grad” doing something that could inspire others, etc.), I encourage you to send them to editor@wpaog.org. Sharing great stories about the Academy and its amazing graduates is another way to fulfill our Vision for the Long Gray Line to be the most highly connected alumni body in the world. And, as always, please send me your thoughts, recommendations, and suggestions on how we can do better for all of you and for our Academy. Grip Hands, ST POINT WE

A position generously supported by the Honorable & Mrs. Robert A. McDonald ’75



Mark D. Bieger ’91 Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired) President & CEO West Point Association of Graduates


We do this in several ways, primarily through services focused on our alumni body—our graduates—and in raising resources for West Point to support the Margin sof Excellence, none of which is possible without the engagement and generosity of our graduates. Throughout our nation’s history, the Long Gray Line has distinguished itself in military, public, and private service for more than 220 years, and today the 55,689 living graduates continue to make a very positive impact on our nation and the world. Here are a few numbers that help define the current Long Gray Line: 49,637 men and 6,052 women graduates, 11,870 of whom remain on active duty; 161 Distinguished Graduate Award recipients, 174 general officers (138 active duty, 18 National Guard and 18 Reserve), and 105 Rhodes Scholars (with two more to come from the Class of 2024); our Oldest Graduate is COL (R) Herb Stern from the Class of 1941, the midpoint of the Long Gray Line is in the Class of 1995, and our newest

members are 977 graduates from the Class of 2023. Picture this, the entire Long Gray Line, with the addition of the Corps (2024-27), would not fit in Michie Stadium but would fill Gillette Stadium, where we just beat Navy! Yet, we are more than just numbers. What really matters is what we do together for each other, our alma mater, and our nation. The strength of the Long Gray Line is who we are and what we do.


Our Mission: To serve West Point and the Long Gray Line. Our Vision: For the Long Gray Line to be the most highly connected alumni body in the world. 4




Dear Fellow Graduates:




Troop the Line Adjutant's Call Core of the Corps The Four Pillars

America’s Team Joins the American Athletic Conference in 2024 Story on page 8



ATTENTION! Troop the Line

Long Gray Line Teammates: Happy 2024! We hope you and your families enjoyed a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season. We appreciate seeing so many of you back at our Rockbound Highland Home for class reunions and for various Academy and alumni events. As we start this new year, we once again thank all of you for your continued support to the Academy, the Corps of Cadets and the Long Gray Line. The Corps has returned from holiday break following an exciting, fast-paced fall semester that they finished with the same level of energy and intensity that they began it, highlighted by Beating Navy at Gillette Stadium in a quintessential game of inches that resulted in us bringing the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy back to West Point. Throughout the semester, cadets explored the importance of innovation and technology in warfare and national defense through study and research, inspired by a variety of thought leaders in innovation. In October, we welcomed the Secretary of the Army for the 2023 National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities and Military Service Academies at the United States Military Academy at West Point as part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate sexual assault and harassment. In November, our 41st Chief of Staff of the Army, General Randy George ’88, joined our firsties to celebrate their

branch assignments at Branch Night and to kick off the Harding Project, a CSA initiative supported by USMA’s Modern War Institute to reinvigorate professional writing across the Army. On the fields of friendly strife, our Women’s Soccer and Cross-Country teams won their respective Patriot League championships, while sinking Navy in sprint football, women’s soccer, women’s cross country, women’s rugby, volleyball, and boxing. The demonstration of excellence continued through our scholarship program with our first graduate scholarship winners of the year: Cadets Fahad Abdulrazzaq ’24 from Woodbridge, Virginia and Isabella Sullivan ’24 from San Antonio, Texas were selected as U.S. Rhodes Scholars for 2024, and Cadets Martayn Van de Wall ’24 from West Friendship, Virginia and Alexis Bradstreet ’24 from Richardson, Texas were selected as 2024 Marshall Scholars. If you are ever wondering about the caliber of the Corps, just come spend a day with them. They are as strong as ever, and we know they will inspire you. As we begin 2024, we continue to posture for the future in support of Army priorities and initiatives. Upon assuming duties as CSA, General George laid out four focus areas to guide the Army in its mission to fight and win our nation’s wars: Warfighting, Delivering Ready Combat Formations, Continuous Transformation, and Strengthen the Profession. USMA is aligned to support these focus areas through its mission of developing leaders of character and various efforts and initiatives.

Lastly, through our resident expertise within our faculty and research centers, initiatives like the Harding Project; and, more importantly, through our focus on character development, we enhance efforts to strengthen the profession, equipping our leaders to serve with both competence and character. GEN Randy George ’88, the 41st Chief of Staff of the United States Army, stands with the Class of 2024 during Branch Night on November 29, 2023.



Ultimately, developing character is still the most important thing we do at the United States Military


Our rigorous leader development program prepares cadets to be 21st century warfighters, ready to lead our Army’s formations in the crucible of ground combat. As a center for intellectual capital and innovation, we support Army transformation efforts to become a more agile and lethal force. Of note, this spring we are launching an innovation hub that will bring together cadets, faculty, and partners to foster collaboration and leverage intellectual capital to support Army transformation efforts.

ATTENTION! Troop the Line Academy, and our commitment to developing leaders of character remains steadfast. This is our obligation to the Army and to the American people. As the Army’s gold standard for leader development, we know America looks to West Point to see what “right” looks like, and we strive to get it right every day. We appreciate all you do to help us “get it right,” as well as for your continued example of selfless service and honorable leadership. Best wishes to you and your families for a happy and healthy 2024. We look forward to engaging with you this spring during Founders Day events across the country and at USMA for class reunions. Go Army! Steven W. Gilland ’90 Lieutenant General, U.S. Army 61st Superintendent, U.S. Military Academy The Army West Point Boxing Team won five of nine bouts against Navy on December 2, 2023.

Photo: Army West Point Boxing Team

"To educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army." —USMA’s Mission



ATTENTION! Adjutant’s Call

America’s Team Joins the AAC in 2024 The Army West Point Football Team will be part of the American Athletic Conference (AAC) starting this year. Aside from a seven-season stretch between 1998 and 2004, Army has previously played as an independent football program. The Black Knights will now likely see annual competition from other AAC schools such as Tulane, North Texas, Memphis, Rice, Florida Atlantic, Charlotte and South Florida. Navy is also in the conference; however, the annual ArmyNavy Game will not be counted as a conference game as the rights remain with both institutions. Should Army and Navy finish first and second respectively in the AAC regular season, the two programs would meet in the AAC championship game and then play the Army-Navy Game the following week. Army will also continue to play Air Force annually, preserving the battle of the Commander-in-Chief ’s Trophy between the three service academies.

conference in every way.” As Army West Point is located in the No. 1-rated Designated Market Area in New York, the addition of its football program gives the AAC an institutional presence in five of the top 10 Nielsen media markets. “In today’s evolving collegiate athletics landscape, it is great to partner with established, respected programs to secure the future success of Army football,” said Mike Buddie, Director of Athletics at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. “What better pairing than to have America’s team joining the American Athletic Conference?” “Our membership in the AAC partners us with outstanding universities and athletic programs from around the nation and will give our football program the opportunity to compete for a conference championship, and it will allow our exceptional cadet-athletes to represent and showcase America’s premier service academy,” said Army West Point Football Head Coach Jeff Monken. “The players, coaches, and staff of America’s team are thrilled to be a part of the American Athletic Conference, and we look forward to the challenges of competing with the great teams in the league.” 

“Our membership in the AAC partners us with outstanding universities and athletic programs from around the nation and will give our football program the opportunity to compete for a conference championship, and it will allow our exceptional cadet-athletes to represent and showcase America’s premier service academy,” —Jeff Monken, Army West Point Football Head Coach



A promotional graphic that Army West Point Football designed and posted to X (formerly Twitter) on October 25, 2023 to announce its move to the American Athletic Conference in 2024.

Photo: Army West Point Athletics Department

“Army’s football program has an iconic national brand with a legacy of success that spans more than a century and is a perfect fit with our conference,” said AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco. Furthermore, Philip Rogers, Chair of AAC’s Board of Directors, said, “Having Army as an AAC member strengthens our

ATTENTION! Adjutant’s Call

Photo: Video capture by Steve Credo/USMA PAO

To Empower Tomorrow’s Leaders, the Discussion Continues Today In October, the United States Military Academy hosted the 2023 National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment, gathering military leaders, educators and prevention experts at West Point to share research and best practices in creating safe and healthy learning environments. Under the theme “Empowering Student Communities to Cultivate Healthy Climates,” the event offered a dynamic series of panel discussions to both in-person and virtual participants. Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth spoke at the event, addressing the crucial importance of tackling sexual assault and harassment, as they pose significant obstacles to the Armed Forces’ mission of safeguarding the nation. “I hope that the collaborative nature of this forum will help us gain a better understanding of the problem and yield some new ideas about what we can do as institutions, as leaders, and as individuals to combat harmful sexual behaviors,” Wormuth said. The Secretary met privately with small groups of cadets throughout the day for candid conversations about their experiences with Army prevention programs.

While the conference’s intended audience was military leaders and college educators and administrators, a student panel of military and civilian student prevention leaders afforded valuable perspectives. The discussion spanned a range of topics, from updating policy and teaching comprehensive sex education to organizing nationwide initiatives aimed at aiding survivors in their healing process. Panel members also discussed the positive effects educators have had in prevention by coordinating informal general discussions and routinely gauging the welfare of students.

The 2023 National Discussion also included a keynote fireside chat and three panel discussions with experts from various disciplines. Each panel examined critical issues related to sexual assault, exploring preventative measures and strategies for enhancing initiatives while preserving a healthy educational environment.

The National Discussion began in 2019 and has rotated annually among the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. 

Lieutenant General Steven Gilland ’90, the 61st USMA Superintendent, closed the event by underlining the collective effort required to address sexual assault and prevention effectively. “This takes a village,” he said, “All of us and all our respective teams need to continue to collaborate and work together as one village to create the safe and healthy climates our students, cadets and midshipmen need to grow and thrive and become empowered and resilient leaders who will affect change among their peers.”

This article is adapted from an article by Jorge Garcia, Staff Writer for West Point’s Pointer View.

Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth meets privately with cadets at the 2023 National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment.



ATTENTION! Adjutant’s Call

USAWC’s International Fellows Visit West Point During the fall semester, the U.S. Military Academy welcomed 74 international officers from 71 countries who are part of the U.S. Army War College’s (USAWC) International Fellows Program, a shared program of the State and Defense departments. Senior officers from allied and partner nations are invited to study alongside U.S. military officers at USAWC as an investment in future collaboration and interoperability. Since 2000, officers in this program have regularly visited West Point and held military-to-military discussions with cadets. This year, the international officers engaged with approximately 90 USMA international and semester exchange cadets on a variety of timely topics: irregular warfare capabilities, professional challenges, the incorporation of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and critical infrastructure resilience. “The first class of international fellows began in 1977,” said Kevin Bremer, the deputy director of the USAWC’s International Affairs and chief of the International Student Management Office. “The program has since grown to over 2,100 graduates, representing more than 140 countries, 90 of whom have gone on to become chiefs of state (president or prime minister), ministers of defense, chiefs of defense or service chiefs of staff.” More than 60 percent of USAWC’s international alumni have made flag rank. 

Above: CPT Jonathan Karcher ’13, Company G-3 tactical officer, facilitates officercadet engagement at the 2023 U.S. Army War College’s International Fellows visit at West Point. Below: A U.S. Army War College International Fellow (left, sitting center) interacts with a group of the 89 USMA international cadets who attended the symposium on September 20, 2023.

Photos: Eric Bartelt/Pointer View

This article is adapted from an article by Eric S. Bartelt, Managing Editor of West Point’s Pointer View.



ATTENTION! Core of the Corps

Esterly ’24 Preps to Complete Swimming Feat Cadet Erica Esterly ’24, who made news in 2021 for swimming the New York Open Water (NYOW) 20 Bridges Race, a 28.5mile lap around the island of Manhattan, is one challenge away from completing the Triple Crown of marathon open water swimming. In August 2022, Esterly, a member of Company B-3 and cadet manager of the Army West Point Women’s Swimming & Diving Team, completed NYOW’s 40 Bridges Race, a double lap around Manhattan. She completed the circuit in 19 hours and 49 minutes, making her both the youngest and fastest woman to finish the 57-mile swim. A month later, Esterly completed the Catalina Channel Challenge, a 21-mile open ocean swim from Catalina Island to Point Vicente, California that features unpredictable currents, strong winds, large Pacific swells and is made even more challenging with a midnight start. After graduating and commissioning this May, Esterly plans to use her graduation leave to tackle another 21-mile open ocean swim, the English Channel. Once she does, she will be one of fewer than 300 swimmers to complete marathon open water swimming’s Triple Crown. “I’m intrigued to see how far my grit can take me,” says Esterly. “I have always loved to push myself to limits that seem impossible when I first imagine them.” Branching Military Police, Esterly is confident that her open-water swim competitions have shaped her mental and physical toughness so that she’s able to handle whatever is thrown at her, just as her West Point experience has done. 

CDT Erica Esterly ’24 gives the “thumbs up” signal before jumping into the Pacific Ocean at midnight for the 21-mile Catalina Channel Challenge.

New Initiative for Corps Support of Athletic Teams

Photos: Submitted

Cadet Martayn Van de Wall ’24, the First Captain, along with the current Brigade Staff unveiled a new initiative on November 14 that allowed cadets the flexibility to attend other Army West Point sports in place of the November 18 Army West Point Football game against Coastal Carolina. According to Cadet Isabella Sullivan ’24, the Brigade Deputy Commander, “We have a unique opportunity to build relationships, foster cohesion, and pursue excellence both within the athletic experience itself and through our support of companymates and classmates as they compete and represent Army West Point.” Reports from Cadet Anusha Pakkam ’24, the Brigade S-2, show that the maximum number of slots for the Army West Point Hockey match against Canisius University at Tate Rink (100), the Army West Point Men’s Basketball game against Quinnipiac Universityat Christl Arena (100), and the Army West Point Women’s Volleyball Patriot League semi-finals match against Colgate University in Hamilton, New York (75), filled up in a matter of minutes.  A group of cadets at the November 17, 2023 Army West Point Men’s Basketball game against Quinnipiac.



ATTENTION! Core of the Corps

Branch Night West Point firsties celebrated Branch Night on November 29, 2023, during which members of the Class of 2024 opened their envelopes to receive their U.S. Army branch assignments. Upon graduation, these cadets will be commissioned as Army officers and enter the Army branch to which they were assigned. Nearly three quarters of the 1,028 cadets (72 percent) in the Class of 2024 received their first branch choice, 93 percent received a topthree preference, and 97 percent received a top-five preference (no cadets received their last branch preference). Almost 90 percent of the members of the Class of 2024 were “most” preferred by the branch they received. 

Infantry: 187

Field Artillery: 162

Engineer: 133

Armor: 98

Aviation: 97

Military Intelligence: 66

Air Defense: 64

Signal Corps: 47

Cyber: 40

Ordnance: 26*

Adjutant General: 21

Medical Service: 20

Quartermaster: 20

Transportation: 20

Military Police: 12

Chemical Corps: 9

Finance Corps: 6

*12 of the 26 are Explosive Ordnance Disposal



Photo: John Pellino/USMA PAO

Class of 2024 Branching Results:

ATTENTION! The Four Pillars

100th Season of Michie Stadium

Photos: WPAOG archives; EwingCole

On October 4, 2023, the Army West Point Athletics Department (AWPAD) kicked off a yearlong celebration to commemorate Michie Stadium, named for Dennis Mahan Michie (USMA 1892), who, as a cadet, was instrumental in starting the game of football at the U.S. Military Academy in 1890. The legendary stadium opened on October 4, 1924, with Army defeating St. Louis University (17-0), and has since been the location of a century of storied football victories at West Point. In 99 seasons, Army has compiled a 364-170-7 (.679) record at Michie. In celebration of the 100th season, AWPAD unveiled a special commemorative logo and merchandise, as well as a video series highlighting some of the best moments in the history of the stadium that Sports Illustrated regularly recognizes as a top venue to watch a football game. With the ongoing Michie Stadium Preservation Project, West Point plans to enhance Michie’s national reputation. The project includes a new 138,000-square-foot structure complete with suites, ledge

seats, loge boxes and club seats (see above). Furthermore, the Corps of Cadets seating section will stretch from end zone to end zone, amplifying game-day support of the cadet-athletes on the field. 

An image of Michie Stadium, which originally sat 16,000 fans, taken from the 1925 Howitzer.



ATTENTION! The Four Pillars

CDTs Abdulrazzaq and Sullivan Named 2024 Rhodes Scholars For the fourth year in a row, a first in Academy history, multiple West Point cadets have earned Rhodes Scholarships. West Point is the only service academy to have reached this accomplishment. Cadets Fahad Abdulrazzaq and Isabella Sullivan, both from the Class of 2024, were among the 32 U.S. Rhodes Scholarship awardees named in November and will study at the University of Oxford in England this fall. This year’s competition brings the total of West Point Rhodes Scholars to 107 (Navy has 52; Air Force has 44). Furthermore, West Point trails only Harvard, Yale, and Princeton for total number of Rhodes Scholars.

immigrant born and raised during the war in Baghdad, Iraq in the early 2000s. Inspired by his childhood experiences, Abdulrazzaq is an International Affairs major with a focus in Middle Eastern conflicts. He is a Stamps scholar and a YaleUSMA Peace and Dialogue Leadership Initiative Fellow and has served as a Pentagon intern in the Joint Chiefs of Staff office, developing memos for the Chairman. Over the summer, Abdulrazzaq commanded the Summer Garrison Regiment, overseeing the accountability and safety of all USMA cadets and the security of all West Point grounds. He currently serves as a Regimental Commander, directing a 30-person staff and overseeing 1,100 other cadets, and is an accomplished boxer for West Point’s national champion Boxing Team. As a Rhodes Scholar, Abdulrazzaq will use his intellectual curiosity, leadership abilities, and fighting attitude to pursue higher education in international policy. He will commission as a Military Intelligence officer upon graduation and wishes to pursue work in special operations throughout his time in service. Abdulrazzaq, who came to attend West Point through the West Point AOG Preparatory Scholarship Program, also known as the Civil Prep Program (in partnership with USMA Admissions), is the first ArabAmerican cadet to earn the Rhodes Scholarship (Captain Ahmad Nasir ’14 won the Marshall in 2014).



Cadet Isabella Sullivan ’24 is an International

History major and two-time captain of the Army Women’s Volleyball Team. In high school, Sullivan had the opportunity to teach in her school’s adjoining preschool, for which she helped run youth development and cultural and character education. This experience piqued her interest in how leaders impact their communities. She continued to follow her passion for character-focused education at West Point, developing the Cultural Competency Thread as a plebe. This thread is an interdisciplinary academic program intended to foster cadets’ understanding of how cultures impact organizations and how cultural competency is a leadership asset. During the summer of 2023, she served as the Regimental Commander for Cadet Basic Training, leading the transformation of 1,258 incoming students into West Point cadets. Presently, she is the Deputy Brigade Commander, the second-highest ranking cadet in the Corps. She oversees operations across a 12-person staff and fosters the academic, physical, military, and character development of 4,400 cadets. As a Rhodes Scholar, Sullivan will study public policy and education to better understand how and where leaders can inject character and leadership development to bridge cultural divides within communities around the globe. As an Army officer, she will seve in the Medical Service Corps. 

Photos: USMA PAO Media Relations

Cadet Fahad Abdulrazzaq ’24 is an American

ATTENTION! The Four Pillars

USMA at AUSA Fall Sandhurst Results

Photos: USMA PAO; Submitted

On October 21 and 22, the Department of Military Instruction (DMI) held the 2023 Fall Sandhurst competition. All 36 USCC companies fielded a team, and there were two Corps-wide teams, USMA Black and USMA Gold, which are technically DMI clubs but function like Department of Physical Education competitive sports clubs. Despite a cold rain, the fall Sandhurst teams tackled several challenging events, such as an 8.5-mile ruck march to Camp Buckner, the Marne Obstacle Course, an M-4 stress shoot at Range 11, and a “Crucible” event on the Plain, which culminated with a three-company combatives challenge. The top 12 teams from the fall competition (listed below) will now represent West Point at the international Sandhurst event this spring, competing against teams from foreign military academies, ROTC programs, and the other U.S. service academies. The only company squad returning to spring Sandhurst from the 2023 competition will be F-2. 

1. USMA Gold

7. B-3

2. A-3

8. E-2

3. D-4

9. H-4

4. A-1

10. A-2

5. USMA Black

11. F-2

6. E-4

12. G-3

The departments of Civil and Mechanical Engineering (CME), Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Physics and Nuclear Engineering (PaNE), and Systems Engineering (DSE) were represented at the Association of the United States Army’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition, a three-day event held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC that featured the latest updates from senior Army leaders and the newest technology from more than 755 defense industry partners. A team of cadets and a faculty member from CME briefed the thousands of AUSA 2023 attendees on the exceptional research and intellectual capital that West Point is bringing to the nation, including projects on lunar robotic systems, the electrification of non-tactical and tactical vehicles, and the design of nuclear microreactors for a sustainable, long-lived, and resilient energy supply. Brigadier General Shane Reeves ’96, Dean of the Academic Board at USMA, posted on his Facebook page, “These projects showcase the power of transdisciplinary work happening across multiple departments at West Point!” 



ATTENTION! The Four Pillars

“Upon Further Review”: The 124th Army-Navy Game

2023 RMY–17 A NAVY–11



17-3 lead. But, being an Army-Navy Game, late-game drama was inevitable. After Navy closed the gap to 17-9, it took the defensive-stop-of-the-year on 4th and goal, inches from the endzone and with just seconds left to play, to keep the Middies from potentially tying the game. Adding to the suspense, the play went to official review, and Army fans had to sweat for several minutes until the referee finally announced, “Upon further review, the ruling on the field is confirmed.” For the second straight year, Army sang second, and for the fourth time in the last seven years, the Black Knights captured the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. 

Photos: Danny Wild/Army Football; Erika Norton/WPAOG

The 2023 Army-Navy Game, played at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts to mark the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, was yet another nailbiter in the 124-game series between the Midshipmen of Navy and the Black Knights of Army West Point. Army dominated the first three quarters, taking a 10-0 lead into the final 15 minutes, thanks to a Tyson Riley ’24 four-yard touchdown reception from Bryson Daily ’25 and a 47-yard field goal by Quinn Maretzki ’24. Navy got into the game with a field goal, but Army seemingly put the game away when Kalib Fortner ’26 stripped the ball from the Navy quarterback and ran it 44 yards for an Army defensive TD and a



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Faculty and Cadets Embrace Innovation, Technology, and the Future of National Defense




In the 2023 Fall issue of West Point magazine, Lieutenant General Steven Gilland ’90 and Brigadier General Shane Reeves ’96 introduced the United States Military Academy’s annual intellectual theme for academic year 2023-24: “Innovation, Technology and the Future of National Defense.” For this issue, West Point magazine asked several academic departments to detail the cutting-edge work their cadets and faculty are doing that will impact the Army and nation in the future. Department of Physics & Nuclear Engineering (PaNE) The Army of the next war will shoot with munitions directed to their target with GPS-guided accuracy. The targets will be selected with space-based hyperspectral imaging sensors. The soldiers and vehicles will move with GPS-guided precision. Communications will extend well beyond range of site out to an arbitrarily large distance through satellite communication networks. The Army of the next war will shoot, move, and communicate with near limitless capability and infinitesimal precision because of the nation’s space-based capabilities. Having an officer corps that understands the capabilities, vulnerabilities, and limitations of space-based assets is not a desire; it’s a necessity. The USMA House of PaNE is seeking to do exactly that by generating space-savvy graduates and the next generation of space domain experts. The House of PaNE is seeking to expose a broad number of cadets to space through the Army Space Cadre Basic Course (ASCBC), hosted as a Military Individual Advanced Development (MIAD) program. This course exposes 40 cadets to the space domain, regardless of major. Another 20 seats are provided to science and engineering majors as a depth-of-study opportunity in order to provide a foundational background to research and major coursework. In addition to the ASCBC MIAD, the House of PaNE is opening a third science option for any cadet interested in learning more about the space domain. This new course, taught at the unclassified level, covers material similar to the ASCBC but with more math and problem-solving. These two programs will increase the number of space-savvy graduates to as many as 10 percent of each graduating class. This space-savvy group will understand the capabilities, vulnerabilities, and limitations of the nation’s space-based assets as they seek to maintain a persistent combatready Army. In addition to the broad exposure to the space domain PaNE provides to cadets, approximately 20 of its majors graduate each year with a degree in Space Science. This degree is very much a physics degree with a high level of problem-solving and exposure to traditional physics major subjects. In addition to the traditional physics major topics, each space science graduate studies orbital mechanics, astronautics, space weather, observational astronomy, remote sensing, and astrophysics. The

breadth and depth of each of these semester-long topics produces small cohorts of officers that will someday feed improvements into next generation space-based equipment. Cadet Claire Lao ’26, a Space Science major, is working to construct a Langmuir probe that will answer questions about high latitude ionospheric effects on high latitude GPS signal distortions. She hopes to become an Army space operations officer someday, so she can “focus on providing troops with the space capabilities necessary to accomplish tactical and strategic missions.” Another cohort of cadets departing USMA with space-savvy knowledge each year stems from the broad list of space research topics hosted by PaNE faculty. Cadets are working to better understand GPS signal degradation at high latitudes due to auroral activity in order to build better models of radiation field mapping near nuclear thermal propulsion engines for cis-lunar satellite operations, and they are studying data from the Parker Solar Probe to provide a better understanding of the impacts of solar weather on our space-based assets. Cadet Andrew Nguyen ’25, a Mechanical Engineering major, is leading a team of cadets to construct a functional CubeSat that will be launched as part of the Army’s rideshare program. Nguyen notes, “To succeed in the modern day multidomain fight, we must be able to understand the limitations and capabilities of everyone on our team.” Down the road, these future officers are going to generate disruptive technology in the procurement pipeline, tipping the scales to victory for U.S. military operations. Anyone who has spent a day in the life of space science has heard the phrase “space is hard.” War is hard. The Army thrives in difficult environments. The Army will thrive in the next war by leveraging space for every opportunity it has to offer thanks to a generation of West Point commissioned officers who fully understand space-based limitations and vulnerabilities.

Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (EECS) Imagine the day when you see the new Cyber and Engineering Academic Center (CEAC) at West Point. You pull into its subterranean garage to park your electric vehicle at a designated parking space, lock your doors, and walk upstairs to experience the newest academic building at the Academy. After an awesome tour, you return to your vehicle to discover a full charge on the battery. While you were learning about the new facility, a robotic




Every fall, cadets who are enrolled in XE401: Integrative System Design I, informally called EECS’s capstone course, are grouped into interdisciplinary and sometimes multidisciplinary teams to address challenging technical problems across disciplines. The candidate problems come to EECS through sponsors such as the U.S. Army Development Command, National Security Agency, Rock Island Arsenal, EECS faculty members, and even from the cadets themselves. For the next nine months, cadets apply the engineering design process and use project management tools to design, build, and test their projects. The culminating event for these teams is Projects Day in the Grand Ballroom of the West Point Club, where they get to present their work. One group of cadets, advised by faculty members in the Photonics Research Center and sponsored by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, is exploring a system that can transmit and receive encrypted data through directional optical methods. Radio transmissions are often located and targeted because they are omnidirectional transmissions. One solution is to use directional transmissions using invisible light. These cadets are working to send and receive encrypted digital data through more covert means to reduce the electromagnetic footprint. While present methods target soldier-to-soldier

communications, future applications could include controlling unmanned systems. Some EECS cadets are also enrolled in an independent study course and participating with other cadets to conduct research and solve problems outside of the prescribed design course. Three EECS cadets from three different year-groups recently teamed up together to design and build a system capable of generating a radio frequency emission for use by electronic warfare soldiers training for direction-finding tasks. Supported by the Cyber Research Center, this team competed and won the Warfighter Innovation in Science and Engineering Competition, a service academy-wide competition, in 2023. Every EECS cadet enrolls in and dedicates their final year at West Point to a design sequence or pursues independent research to explore and demonstrate the skills they learned as an EECS major. Regardless of independent or group work, evidence of their successes is highlighted every year on Projects Day. Do not be surprised to someday see these EECS cadets’ ideas and project results used everywhere, especially at the CEAC.

Department of Civil & Mechanical Engineering (CME) CME has recently unveiled two pivotal projects, WAR and DTRA MRI, and each are poised to reshape the future of military innovation and defense strategy. The WAR Project—Nestled within the historic Iowa Army Ammunition Plant (IAAAP), the backbone of the nation’s munition manufacturing since the 1940s, a project of paramount

During the 2023 Projects Day Research Symposium, then CDTs (L to R) Matteo Cordray, John Roberts, Keno Deary, Christopher Eno, and Jose Taveras, all EECS majors from the Class of 2023, display the Edge-Enhanced Mapping and Positioning System, which can map environments using LiDAR and estimate the location of CBRN sources.



Photo: Kyle Osterhoudt/USMA PAO

vehicle rolled up to your vehicle and autonomously plugged a cable into the charging port to top off your battery. While this might sound like science fiction, EECS cadets thought through this idea to design and build a prototype of this robotic platform. Their project, called Robotic Electric Vehicle Charger or REVC, is one of many being worked on by cadets majoring in Computer Science, Cyber Science, and Electrical Engineering.


The Warehouse Automated Robots (WAR) multidisciplinary team, comprised of cadets from CME and EECS, is working to transform the 155 mm round production line of the historic Iowa Army Ammunition Plant into a state-of-the-art facility equivalent to modern factories.

importance is underway. The Warehouse Automated Robots project, commonly called WAR by the CME and EECS cadets involved in this initiative, is working to modernize IAAAP, which has been operating at maximum capacity for decades, and to streamline its production. The WAR project seeks to introduce automation to the process, which would involve picking up rounds out of pallets and orienting them to be stamped, labeled, and machined.

Photo: Submitted

Cadets are working to transform the 155 mm round production line into a state-of-the-art facility equivalent to modern factories. “The manufacturing of artillery shells is critical to national security, yet the process has largely remained untouched since World War II,” says Cadet Christopher White ’24, a Mechanical Engineering major. “This project hopes to automate key parts of the process to improve manufacturing efficiency, ultimately replenishing the United States’ strategic reserve of 155 mm shells.” The cadets involved are not just students but future officers, and their hands-on experience with the WAR project equips them with invaluable skills in innovation, leadership, and problemsolving. “The cadets work with industrial equipment, real world vendors, and automation integrators, and the project forces them to adapt and see what real engineering is like,” says Daniel Dosher, an Assistant Professor and advisor with CME. “There’s rapid prototyping in every project, and in this one they must integrate with an existing manufacturing line that presents a lot of unique challenges, but that’s going to prepare them for their Army career.”

The DTRA MRI Project—In the dynamic world of military defense, innovation isn’t optional; it’s essential. The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Beckman Institute, and CME have partnered in the hope of reshaping how the United States responds to chemical and biological threats. Imagine scenarios in which troops must navigate deliberately contaminated areas or respond to accidents like explosions or chemical spills. CME cadets are working to ensure that, in such situations, the Army can effectively evacuate populations, shelter them in place, or move personnel to safety. The cadets are using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to study fluid

“The time, effort, and dedication put forth by the cadets on projects like this are not only great reflections on themselves but also illustrate the type of leaders that the Army can count on to help solve complex problems in often complicated situations.” — 1SG (R) Bruce Trask, DTRA Contractor




flow, and their advanced simulations and models will allow the Army to explore numerous scenarios.

Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership (BS&L)

The cadets are constructing small-scale models of stadiums, cities, and other urban structures and using MRI to visualize fluid flow around these models. Cadet Adam Eckstein ’24, highlighting the groundbreaking nature of the project, says, “We get to lay the foundation for using an advanced technology to model something that’s never been modeled before.”

Engineering Psychology, a subdiscipline of psychology, is one of four academic majors in BS&L. Also known as Human Factors, Engineering Psychology is an applied science discipline that focuses on understanding human behavior and cognition in order to improve the design of technology. A multidisciplinary field with experts from a variety of backgrounds, it has applications in robotics, cyber, aviation, and the military. The goal of Engineering Psychology is to increase productivity and safety while enhancing the user experience through intuitive design, characteristics that are especially important in military contexts (given that ill-designed devices can cost lives). West Point is one of only a handful of academic institutions in the nation to offer Engineering Psychology as an academic major at the undergraduate level, and the major serves as one of the Army’s innovation testbeds for military technologies.

The WAR and DTRA MRI projects are just two examples of the exceptional opportunities that are being brought to bear in the halls of West Point to push the boundary on innovation in the classroom and to develop future leaders who are ready to meet the needs of the Army and nation.

Two decades ago, USMA’s Engineering Psychology program focused heavily on the study of situation awareness and improving camouflage patterns. Supporting current Army modernization priorities, today’s Engineering Psychology cadets and faculty develop and evaluate new technologies and training, focusing on autonomy, cyber, modeling and simulation, and human-artificial intelligence (AI) integration. Some recent projects include integrating augmented reality in both training and multi-domain operations (e.g., IVAS, HoloLens, and BVI sand table), studying the impact of autonomous teammates on performance and integrating AI decision-aids into the military

Dr. Ericka Rovira (right), Professor of Engineering Psychology with BS&L, brought Spot, a four-legged robot designed by Boston Dynamics, to Cadet Leader Development Training in the summer of 2023 to investigate human-robot trust and team cohesion.



Photo: Erika Norton/WPAOG

The significance of this research extends beyond the laboratory: for the Army, it directly informs decisions on chemical releases in battlefield scenarios; for cadets, it offers exposure to cuttingedge technology and the chance to apply classroom knowledge to real world problems. Dr. Andrew Banko, an Assistant Professor and advisor with CME, states, “They’re going to come out of this capstone design course knowing how to think pretty broadly about design and how to take on an open-ended project that goes beyond their regular curriculum.” Furthermore, as Army First Sergeant Bruce Trask (Retired), a DTRA contractor, says, “The time, effort, and dedication put forth by the cadets on projects like this are not only great reflections on themselves but also illustrate the type of leaders that the Army can count on to help solve complex problems in often complicated situations.”


Cadets (L to R: David Adarkwah ’25, Dominic Flowers ’25, Erin Jacobs ’25, and Vincent Vo ’26) conduct a lab experiment with MAJ Nicholas Deschenes (center), Assistant Professor of Space Physics with PaNE, to learn image formation by applying geometric optics while designing a classical Keplerian telescope.

Photo: Rebecca Rose/WPAOG

decision-making process. The Army and the academic community have repeatedly recognized BS&L’s Engineering Psychology cadets and faculty for their research efforts. The program’s senior faculty have received numerous Multi University Research Initiative, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command awards in topics ranging from human-robot trust and team cohesion (Professor of Engineering Psychology Ericka Rovira), to explainable AI techniques (Associate Professor Robert Thomson), and to social cybersecurity (Associate Professor Aryn Pyke). Through coursework in cognitive psychology, sensation and perception, and human factors engineering, cadets learn how autonomous systems impact attention, mental workload, decision making, teaming, and trust. With faculty mentorship, cadets apply these concepts in senior capstones and work in collaboration with Department of Defense scientists and engineers, as well as with researchers from universities and research enterprises. Second Lieutenant Kiersten Eggers ’23 writes of her experience, “From visiting ARL’s Grace’s Quarters to seeing the various robots the Army is developing for soldiers to presenting my senior honor’s thesis at the Human Robot Interaction Conference in Stockholm, the Engineering Psychology program has made me a better communicator and creative problem-solver, and it has enabled me to become exceptionally knowledgeable about the robotic platforms that my peers and I will work with during our careers as Army officers.”

“Engineering Psychology has given me the opportunity to witness firsthand some of the cutting-edge technology currently in development for the Army.” — 2LT Bethany Carter ’23 The development and testing of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) demonstrates how knowledge of the visual system learned in sensation and perception coursework was applied to a senior capstone. “Engineering Psychology has given me the opportunity to witness first-hand some of the cutting-edge technology currently in development for the Army,” writes Second Lieutenant Bethany Carter ’23, whose capstone involved wearing the IVAS and investigating the impacts of different color modes on vision. “In conducting this capstone, I was able to use the information I learned in my classes and apply it to [the] real-life Army when IVAS showed up to my unit last month!” she says. Concomitantly, cadets and faculty are increasingly engaged in researching cyber human factors. Cadet Darby Horne ’24 is currently applying coursework in human computer interaction, cognitive psychology, and human factors engineering to her senior capstone, which investigates the use of map visualizations WEST POINT / WINTER 2024



to make cyber and electronic warfare threats more salient to military leaders during tactical planning. “It’s fascinating to see everything I have learned come together in a real-world application!” she says. The modern military is characterized by increasingly automated and data-intensive systems that are literally changing every day, given the advances being made in AI and autonomous systems. The exposure that Engineering Psychology cadets have to these systems prepares them to not only embrace using these technologies but to innovate within the field to maintain the Army’s superiority over the nation’s adversaries.

Department of Chemistry & Life Science (CLS) CLS is a vital partner in providing science and engineering depth to USMA graduates. It supports this effort by leveraging the newly renovated Bartlett Hall and its outstanding laboratory facilities, world class faculty, and a network of civilian and government research partnerships. The model that CLS employs, coined “teaching through research,” combines classroom experience with complex, lab-based problem-solving on a variety of Department of Defense (DoD) challenges. Cadets perform research in areas that resonate with both them and the Army: keeping soldiers safe, saving lives, and solving the most difficult technical challenges for tomorrow’s force. This integrative experience provides intellectual development that extends beyond the classroom and promotes cognitive maturity that is paramount for the future success of our Army. The 24


outcomes are impressive and have improved the graduating population over the last 10 years in two important ways. First, for the population of cadets who attend medical school upon graduation (two percent of the graduating class by law), conducting research and publishing in peer-reviewed journals (70 cadet co-authored publications since 2018) has drastically improved their chances for acceptance at the very best medical schools. USMA graduates have seen increased enrollment at Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, Georgetown, and other top-tier medical schools, and they have gone on to provide the very best care to the nation’s soldiers and veterans. Second, the “teaching through research” model has enabled the exponential increase in technical scholars who, upon graduation, attend graduate school and receive advanced degrees in science and engineering. The increase in technical scholars, which now averages 28 CLS graduates per year over the past three years, provides the Army with a population of young officers who have advanced understanding and the ability to solve complex problems. They also have keen awareness of the technology that our Army will use on the future battlefield, and they are familiar with the technology the Army will face from any potential adversaries: artificial intelligence, advanced biological threats, exploitation of data, and more. Cadet Eddie Chen ’25 offers the following testimony regarding his experience as a CLS major: “My research experience at West Point centers around investigating energy storage systems, with a focus on nanomaterial development for battery components,

Photo: Erika Norton/WPAOG

CDTs Aidan Tran ’25 and Katherine Hebert ’24, who are leading a multi-year research effort to investigate the effects of bacteriophage therapeutics against pathogenic bacterial infection on the human microbiome, adjust the flame on their Meker-Fisher burner as they prepare to work “under flame,” a process that maintains sterile conditions with their bacterial cultures on petri dishes.


such as electrodes and separators. Through my research, I have interacted with mentors, attended lectures, completed an internship at a national laboratory, and communicated results through conferences. I have learned that I can leverage my platform as a cadet and future officer to partake in these unique research opportunities, showing me that service and research are not mutually exclusive. These experiences have also influenced my goals to become an Engineer officer. All these experiences have enhanced my classroom experiences and provided me with additional tools to solve the complex problems I will face as an Army officer.” The Center for Molecular Science (CMS) within CLS is the key enabler supporting the “teaching through research” model. CMS enables CLS’s mission through administrative, legal, and budget support that streamlines and facilitates the success of cadet and faculty research. Three lines of research effort— protection, energy, and materials—directly support the most pressing DoD challenges. Cadets who are focused on the protection effort study bacteriophage therapeutics, pathogenic bacteria and viruses, metal organic frameworks, and DNA aptamers, all with the goal of exploiting science and engineering to increase soldier survivability against the latest threats on the battlefield. Those studying energy challenges focus their work on the optimization, storage, and control of energy to improve efficiency and reduce risk to Army formations. Some of the energy areas in which cadets are currently engaged include flowable electrodes, energy


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awareness, battery technology, and the modeling of such systems. Lastly, cadets studying materials are researching novel solutions to improve the hardware used by our Army. CLS work in this research effort includes nanomaterials for energy storage, threat detection, and mitigation, as well as work in propellants, munition degradation, and countermeasure development. The “teaching through research” model has proven to be a successful way to promote deeper learning and develop agile thinkers who, as officers, will successfully lead the Army against the dauting challenges facing the nation.

Margin of Excellence While the technical expertise and work comes from the cadets, the product produced in the end would not be possible without financial support from various sources, such as the Reimbursable Program funds and donor-sponsored gift funds. As an example, EECS’s REV-C project was sponsored by a donor through gift funds. Many of the other projects mentioned are supported by funds received and administered by host department’s associated research centers. To learn about future funding opportunities, please contact the West Point Association of Graduates’ Development Office.  West Point magazine thanks COL Kirk Ingold ’96 (EECS), COL Corey James ’99 (CLS), LTC William Koch ’04 (PaNE), Dr. Ericka Rovira (BS&L) and Jana Scardigno (CME) for their work on this article.


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The Warrants of West Point

By Keith J. Hamel, WPAOG staff

Their mission is to serve as the “Wings of West Point,” but the warrant officers of the 2nd Aviation Detachment also take pride in introducing cadets to an Army rank seldom seen on Post.


cademy leadership is always seeking ways to foster non-commissioned officer (NCO) interactions with cadets. The officer-NCO relationship is something that vexes many grads when they arrive at their first unit. A few decades ago, Brigadier General David Bramlett ’64, Commandant (1989-92), and Colonel James Siket ’67, Brigade Tactical Officer (1991-94), staffed each cadet company with a TAC NCO in an effort to “bring a degree of the real Army to the Corps’ lifestyle.” While there are now approximately four dozen NCOs that interact regularly with cadets at West Point, not to mention the dozens more assigned to West Point that work with them during Cadet Summer Training, cadets’ experiences with warrant officers are few and far between. “The best thing about being at West Point is the exposure I provide to cadets regarding the warrant officer rank,” says Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kenneth Rudo, a flight detachment standardization pilot and operations officer with the 2nd Aviation Detachment. “Just to give them insight as to how the Army works outside of a training environment, and the relationships you have with the different people you work with, is really valuable.” Rudo is one of six warrant officers with the 2nd Aviation Detachment (“Wings of West Point”), a unique unit—its command structure is all warrant officers—housed at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, New York. The unit’s primary mission is to fly distinguished visitors to West Point and to support the Superintendent’s travel off Post. Its secondary mission is to support the U.S. Corps of Cadets. “Tasked through the USMA Deputy G3, the 2nd Aviation Detachment generally

supports the West Point Parachute Team, assists with Academy marketing and outreach, and conducts fly-bys for home football games,” notes Rudo. For cadets seeking to learn more about the “real” Army, the warrant officers of the 2nd Aviation Detachment have a lot to offer. “As a unit, we have over 10,000 hours of flying experience,” says Rudo. Furthermore, several of the warrant officers in the 2nd Aviation Detachment have had multiple combat tours. “I’ve done five,” says Rudo: two nine-month tours as an AH-64 Apache pilot in Afghanistan and three tours (two 12-month and one 15-month) in Iraq as an infantryman. While the subject of combat comes up, Rudo mostly wants to discuss leadership and aviation with cadets. “Coming from an instructor pilot background teaching at Fort Rucker, I want to mentor cadets in how to be successful and what they should focus on when they get to their units,” he says. “For those branching Aviation, I advise them on how an Aviation company operates and how to interact with a warrant officer, as most of them don’t get a chance to work with us until brigade level.” Rudo says that he explains to cadets what a warrant officer is, where they come from, and how to best utilize them in order to be a successful leader in their own career. According to Rudo, the 2nd Aviation Detachment has three major opportunities to influence cadets. The most obvious one is the work the unit does with the West Point Parachute Team. “We closely interact with the 40 cadets on the jump team all semester,” says Rudo, “and, if the weather cooperates and the team is active, we may see these cadets seven days a week—four to five days being the average.” The unit is also present at West

Previous page: A team from the 2nd Aviation Detachment (L to R: CW3 Kenneth Rudo, CW4 Ryan Otto, and CW2 Tony Losole) conduct a static display and pose with a community member of the Watervliet Arsenal during “Family Day” at the oldest continuously active arsenal in the United States.




Point for Branch Night and Post Night, especially interacting with those cadets branching Aviation or going to Aviation units. Finally, the warrant officers of the 2nd Aviation Detachment love to interact with cadets during home football games. “Before each jump, as my teammates board the helicopter, the pilots set down their flight equipment in order to fist bump each jumper,” says Cadet Pierce Ederle ’25, a member of the West Point Parachute Team. “It’s one of those traditions that highlights the bond our team shares with the 2nd Aviation Detachment and the appreciation we hold for these highly skilled aviators who take time out of their day to teach us valuable skills of in-extremis leadership and camaraderie.” “During our night operation training jumps, Chief Warrant Officer Rudo spoke to me and some of my teammates about flight school, what it was like to fly Apaches in Afghanistan, how the 2nd Aviation Detachment operates, and even about his time as an Infantry officer,” says Cadet Faith Riccobene ’26, another member of the West Point Parachute Team. “Interacting with the warrant officers through conversations like this, situations involving flexibility and willingness to serve, has only made me more eager to branch Aviation, and I look forward to learning from them more over my next three years at the Academy.” “Chief Warrant Officer Rudo, a prior service infantry platoon sergeant and later Apache pilot instructor, has provided great insight to cadets regarding branch culture, leadership practices, and other advice for future young lieutenants,” says Madeline Rose ’26. “Working with the warrant officers of the 2nd Aviation Detachment, we cadets are able to see firsthand the ‘mission first-people always’ dynamic of the operational Army at play.”

Warrant Officers Presently Serving with the 2nd Aviation Division





Time with 2nd Aviation Division

Flying Hours


Glen Blanche


1.5 years

4,000 hours


Ryan Otto

Detachment Standardization Pilot

6 months

4,000 hours


Ken Rudo

Standardization Pilot and Operations Officer

2 years

2,700 hours


Steven Jarrard

Instructor Pilot

1 month

1,600 hours


Robert Smitha

Line Pilot

1 year

<1,000 hours


Tony Losole

Line Pilot

1 year

<1,000 hours


Photos: U.S. Army photo by SFC Luisito Brooks; Brandon O’Connor/USMA PAO

Top: SGT Damon King, the NCO rigger for the West Point Parachute Team, approaches the Lakota aircraft. Above: A member of the West Point Parachute Team practices flying the colors for demonstration jumps, providing practice for flag catchers on the ground as well.

When not working with cadets, the warrant officers of the 2nd Aviation Detachment are busy honing their aviation skills. This typically happens during the summer, when cadets are away from the Academy or busy with summer training. “We’ll practice for the VIP missions that are part of our unique


One of the 2nd Aviation Detachment’s Lakotas takes off from the Plain with a cadet and a midshipman during a combined training exercise between the West Point Parachute Team and the USNA Parachute Team.

Photo: U.S. Army photo by SFC Luisito Brooks

mission set at West Point or we’ll use our ‘bambi buckets’ to conduct firefighting training or work on our rescue-hoist training,” says Rudo. It doesn’t happen often, but the 2nd Aviation Detachment is sometimes called on by the Superintendent to support local municipalities with these latter types of missions. “Just last year, we launched and stood ready to assist with a search for a West Point Middle School student who went off in the woods,” says Rudo. In 2013, the unit performed a nighttime hoist/extraction to rescue an injured hiker located on Breakneck Ridge, a popular hiking mountain located between Beacon, New York and Cold Spring, New York on the eastern side of the Hudson River. Less than a week earlier, the 2nd Aviation Detachment responded to a request for support with a massive fire in Rockland County. “We also operate with a memorandum of understanding to back up the New York State Police,” says Rudo. The New York State Police shares a hanger with the 2nd Aviation Detachment at the Stewart Army Subpost. “They are like our family,” says Rudo. “We’re always on their side of the hanger talking to them and supporting them.” Rudo notes that this family-oriented environment continues with the other assets housed at Stewart. “We are also close with the Air Force,” he says. “Our three civilian on-staff mechanics conduct maintenance on our aircraft in-house, and if we are missing a part or need to get something quickly, the Air Force folks will help us out, and we’ve helped them out in the past, too.” The comradery even includes Atlantic

“Before each jump, as my teammates board the helicopter, the pilots set down their flight equipment in order to fist bump each jumper. It’s one of those traditions that highlights the bond our team shares with the 2nd Aviation Detachment and the appreciation we hold for these highly skilled aviators who take time out of their day to teach us valuable skills of in-extremis leadership and camaraderie.” — CDT Pierce Ederle ’25, West Point Parachute Team member




Epic 42 and Epic 43 often follow the Hudson River, allowing CW3 Kenneth Rudo and the other pilots of the 2nd Aviation Detachment a great view of the Hudson Valley.

Rudo also enjoys being part of the West Point environment, even though the 2nd Aviation Detachment is stationed more than 15 miles off Post. “I don’t feel any disconnection over distance,” he says. “The fact of the matter is that I can fly to West Point in basically the same amount of time it takes someone entering Post from Stony Lonesome Gate to reach Central Area.” Well, that is if Rudo doesn’t take the “scenic” route, which he is apt to do from time to time. “I love seeing the Academy from the air,” he says. “It stands for America, patriotism and service to our country,” much like the cadets it is charged to train. “Just as cadets do not get many opportunities to interact with a warrant officer, many warrant officers do not get an opportunity to interact with cadets,” says Rudo. “The warrant officers of the 2nd Aviation Department and I are privileged to work with cadets, hopefully bringing a sense of the real Army to them and positively influencing their development as leaders of character.”  Learn about the Department of Civil & Mechanical Engineering’s Academic Flight Program, whose two Cessna planes have a home in the 2nd Aviation Detachment.



“The warrant officers of the 2nd Aviation Department and I are privileged to work with cadets, hopefully bringing a sense of the real Army to them and positively influencing their development as leaders of character.” — CW3 Kenneth Rudo

Photo: Submitted

Aviation, which supplies the 2nd Aviation Detachment with its fuel. “Everyone supports one another here; it’s a really good environment to be in,” says Rudo.


Epic 42/43 The 2nd Aviation Detachment’s primary aircraft is the UH-72A Lakota, a twin-engine helicopter with a single, four-bladed main rotor and glass cockpit. The unit houses two Lakotas, referred to as “Epic 42” and “Epic 43,” at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, New York. “They’re the Swiss Army knife of helicopters and perfect for our mission at West Point,” says Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kenneth Rudo, a flight detachment operations officer with the 2nd Aviation Detachment who has more than 2,700 hours piloting the Lakota. A refitted version of the commercial EC145, the UH-72A replaced the UH-1 Iroquois (“Huey”) after 2007 as the U.S. Army’s primary light utility and training helicopter. “It’s very fast and very agile,” says Rudo. “It takes less than five minutes from launch to reach the Plain, a distance of 14 nautical miles.”

Crew: 1 or 2 pilots Capacity: 9 troops Length: 42 ft. 9 in. Height: 11 ft. 4 in. Weight: 3,951 lbs. Max Payload: 7,904 lbs. Max Speed: 153 mph Cruise Speed: 90 mph Range: 426 mi. Rate of Climb: 1,600 ft./min.

Photo: Rebecca Rose/WPAOG

Max Altitude: 13,182 ft. M iscellaneous: Three-access autopilot, NVG capability, hoist and bucket capabilities, modern avionics, and special navigation packages (no weapon systems).



“… But I have promises to keep / And miles to go before I sleep…” —Robert Frost

Photo: Erika Norton/WPAOG

Army Women’s Soccer: Keeping the Momentum Going

 Grounding Air Force

The Army West Point Women’s Soccer Team earned their first victory of the 2023 season by defeating Air Force, 2-1, on September 7. Air Force scored first, but Army West Point scored two goals in the match’s final 15 minutes to secure the win, including a goal by team captain Kaitlin Palaian ’24 with just over a minute left to play. Madison Niebish ’24 kicked a cross that Palaian was able to head into the goal to give the team the win over its service academy rival.



Photos: Army West Point Athletics Department

By Erika Norton, WPAOG staff


The Army West Point Women’s Soccer Team had a stellar 2023 season: the Black Knights claimed the Patriot League regular-season title for a second time in a row and beat both Air Force and Navy in the same season for only the third time in program history. After such success, Head Coach Tracy Chao received the Patriot League Coach of the Year Award for the second consecutive season, making her the first Army coach to win Patriot League Coach of the Year in back-toback years since 2018 and 2019. Although many of the program’s key players from 2022 had graduated, Chao maintained the strategy she used that year and looked to keep the momentum going in 2023, with the previous season’s junior players stepping into more senior leadership positions.

Photos: Army West Point Athletics Department

“Last season, we stayed committed to our process and our journey and really leaned into leaving a legacy with our team, especially from the firsties, who were really strong leaders and had a big hand in how the team’s culture has shifted,” Chao said. “Those standards, that accountability, and who we are as a team trickle down into how the current firstie class continues that culture and integrates the plebes. At the end of the day, you have about a quarter of your team as new players, so it comes down to how quickly can you integrate them and incorporate them into the culture, while also continuing to sustain the culture that was already there.”

Top: Team Captain and forward Kaitlin Palaian ’24 makes her way down the field during Army’s victorious game against Air Force. Right: Defender Sydney Bender ’24 sends the ball down the field. Bender was named to the second All-Patriot League Team.




Being a student-athlete at West Point can be challenging; so, according to Chao, having the returning experienced players help the new players manage and understand the team’s structure, as well as help them find a rhythm, is key. And the earlier these players begin to take on leadership qualities, the better. The goal is to prepare the younger players to start leading so that they’re ready for the next season’s incoming players, rather than waiting until they become firsties to lead. In order to help this process, the team has a leadership council made up of two players from each class, so that each class has voices within the team and the ability to start leading now. This way, younger players begin to take on responsibility and are ready to lead when they become firsties. And while winning games always matters, Chao maintains that there has been a consistent focus within the team on developing who they are as Army soccer players, as members of the Corps of Cadets, as student-athletes and as leaders of character. By focusing on consistency and not thinking too far ahead, the team can enjoy the journey, Chao said, while also maintaining their momentum.

“We are a strong team because of the amazing 31 girls that make up our roster. We can do nothing without the support of the entire team and without each member truly feeling valued and heard.”

Cadet Jasmine Talley ’24, who was also a team captain, said that, in order to keep the momentum going from 2022, she saw her role as helping each teammate understand the value they provide to the team. She also took it upon herself to continue fostering a winning culture and mentality through consistent hard work and the tenacity lessons learned from the 2022 season. According to Talley, the team relied heavily on their team values: Agape, Invictus, Ubuntu. “‘Agape’ means unconditional love,” Talley said. “We play for the love of the sport, not to impress others or prove anything to anybody except ourselves. ‘Invictus’ means to be unconquerable. We will never give up and never accept defeat. We define it as a gritty mentality, an attitude that nobody will beat us in our personal battles, and that hard work often leads to victories. ‘Ubuntu’ means ‘I am because we are.’ We are not a strong team because of one or two star players…we are a strong team because of the amazing 31 girls that make up our roster. We can do nothing without the support of the entire team and without each member truly feeling valued and heard.” Both Talley and Palaian took their roles as team captains seriously and saw the opportunity as preparation for becoming Army officers. For Talley, the team-building skills she honed on the field will help her as an Army officer.

Photo: Army West Point Athletics Department

— CDT Jasmine Talley ’24

In 2022, the team came incredibly close to winning the Patriot League Championship, but ultimately lost to Bucknell on penalty kicks. “That was a tough moment for us,” recalled Cadet Kaitlin Palaian ’24, who was a team captain in 2023. Palaian said the team was keeping the momentum alive in 2023 by maintaining a strong and determined mindset and by focusing on one game at a time. “The disappointment of the 2022 loss motivated us to work even harder, and we focused on continuous improvement in all aspects of our game,” she said.




Army West Point Women’s Soccer Head Coach Tracy Chao won the Patriot League Coach of the Year award for the second consecutive year, sharing her success with the “village” of athletic staff that supports the program (L to R: Women’s Soccer Assistant Coach Mason Portalski, former Army West Point Women’s Soccer player 2LT Emma Richey ’23, Women’s Soccer Head Coach Tracy Chao, Women’s Soccer Assistant Coach Tori Ball, and Senior Associate Athletics Director Abigail Howard).

“From jumping toward a keeper’s fists to continuing to run sprints even after reaching peak exhaustion, soccer is a unique opportunity to undergo genuine personal development alongside 30 of your best friends,” Talley said. “The Army is essentially one big team. Starting at the platoon level, I hope to use these teambuilding skills, along with instilling a culture of excellence, to help my future platoon be the best we can be as a team.” According to Palaian, both competitiveness and teamwork are needed to win soccer games. In soccer, passes, positioning and patience are required, and this type of teamwork and planning will be applicable in her Army career after graduation. “As a forward, my favorite sound is the ball hitting the back of the net and the sound and feeling of a perfect strike coming off my foot,” Palaian said. “In the military, competition exists, but it’s teamwork, hard work and strategic thinking that often makes the difference in achieving objectives. Soccer has taught me these traits, and they will serve me well as an Army officer.”

Photos: Army West Point Athletics Department

When she looks back at her time as captain, Palaian is happy to see not only a winning record but a strong foundation for the

Team Captain and forward Jasmine Talley ’24 takes the ball down the field against Colgate.

team’s future success and leadership development, which she helped build. Chao saw that strong foundation at play last fall on the Women’s Soccer Team and is counting on it going forward. She attributes her players’ success to not only putting in the work but also to the “village” of athletic staff that supports the program, including the coaching staff, athletic trainer, strength and conditioning coach, performance psychologist, academic advisor, and staff of officer representatives. All the awards and achievements show that everyone, from the Superintendent all the way down to the Army West Point Athletics Department, supports the Women’s Soccer Team and sees them as a consistent contender for a championship. “We don’t get to this point with just a ‘Coach of the Year,’ whether it’s a head coach or assistant coach,” Chao said. “We get to this point because of all the people that are a part of the program. It means that we have the ability to put ourselves in a position to compete for a championship every year.” 

Winning the Star 

In a rain-soaked match on October 15, the Army West Point Women’s Soccer Team earned the right to sing second by beating Navy, 2-1. Madison Niebish ’24 put the Black Knights ahead just 12 minutes into the game, and they never looked back. After a Navy handball penalty, Kaelan Bradley ’25 made it 2-0 before the half. Sage Strohman ’25, the Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week coming into the match, made six saves during the game, with only a late Navy goal preventing the shutout. The win gave the Women’s Soccer Team back-to-back victories against Navy, their longest winning streak in the Star Series. WEST POINT / WINTER 2024


Carving Paths and Paying it Forward

Young Old Grads, roughly defined as those who have just graduated from West Point to those who are beginning to transition out of the Army at anywhere from the five- to 20-year mark, are often the forgotten members of the Long Gray Line. More attention tends to be paid to the connected and established Old Grads who are serving as senior military leaders or who have made their way up the corporate ladder.



Photo: WPAOG archives

By Christina Kretchman ’99, Guest Author


In truth, young Old Grads are on incredible journeys, each taking different skills from the Academy and using them in their own ways as they carve out their paths and pay forward their West Point legacy. The following pages share what six young Old Grads have been doing since graduation and how they are contributing to the Army and the nation. Lauren Johnson ’21

Photos: Submitted; USMA PAO

Johnson’s journey started early, as she is a legacy cadet whose grandfather, mother, and father are all part of the Long Gray Line. She did not want to go to West Point originally. Initially, she dreamt of becoming a Broadway dancer, but an injury changed her plans. At the Academy, Johnson spent two years as a Rabble Rouser, as a battalion peer support counselor during cow year, and as a member of the Brigade Honor Committee during her firstie year. Branching Quartermaster upon graduation, she quickly found herself in her first unit with the 1st Cavalry Division in November 2021. Before deploying to Poland in February 2022 as a supply support activity platoon leader, she found herself with no mission and no equipment, which brought along its own set of challenges. “I had a lot of time to get to know my soldiers and talked with them often,” Johnson says. “I realized that’s the best thing I could have done, even if I had a large list of tasks I needed to get done.” Just walking around, seeing what her soldiers did and how they did it, and learning about their personal histories had a big impact on her. Her missions in Poland ranged from warehouse operations, which supplied parts to rotational units throughout Europe, to being the mayor of a life support area in Lithuania. Upon return from deployment, Johnson took over as the executive officer of a composite supply company at Fort Cavazos, Texas, where she is today as a first lieutenant. She says the No. 1 lesson she took from West Point is prioritization. “When I was at the Academy, everything was like a firehose, and that’s exactly what the tempo is now for me as an XO,” she says. Johnson strives to be a good steward of the Long Gray Line and one day hopes to return to the Academy as an instructor. Until then, she is having conversations and setting expectations with her soldiers, mentors her sister and other cadets, and hopes to mentor more cadets in the future.

2LT Lauren Johnson ’21 is welcomed home by her family—including her father (Class of 1992), sister, and dog—after her deployment to Poland.

Eugene “E.J.” Coleman III ’16 Coleman’s leadership started during his high school years in Alexandria, Virginia, where he developed his love for public service in the Marine Corps Junior ROTC. Old Grad Pat Locke ’80 inspired him to apply to West Point, and she helped mentor him along the way. At USMA, he was named First Captain, served as class president (a position he still holds today), competed on the Boxing Team his yearling and cow years, and double majored in Economics and Management. Commissioned as a Field Artillery officer, Coleman served as a fire support officer, platoon leader, aide-de-camp, division artillery brigade adjutant, and corps deputy chief of protocol while stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state after graduation. In August 2021, a week after transitioning from the Army, Coleman began classes at Harvard Business School. He credits West Point for giving him the time management skills needed for both the Army and grad school. “Learning early on what to prioritize or what level of effort I can put into a certain task in order to avoid burnout has been super important,” he says. Coleman graduated from Harvard in May 2023 and joined Bain & Company in Washington, DC as a management consultant in October 2023. Continued service is WEST POINT / WINTER 2024



important to Coleman: “I am committed to service in whatever form that comes in,” he says. Currently he serves as the Secretary of the Board for Guardian Revival, a nonprofit organization focused on supporting veteran and first responder mental health and well-being. His service does not stop there; he strives to be available to his classmates, if needed. He says, “I am doing all I can to help; they just need to tell me where I can be of most value to them.”

Left: E.J. Coleman ’16 serves on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit organization Guardian Revival. Right: Coleman, then First Captain of the Corps of Cadets, takes the commissioning oath during the Graduation Ceremony for the Class of 2016.

Jessica (Jordan) Sonza and Orlando Sonza, both from the Class of 2013, enjoy a S.L.A.M. event in Cincinnati, Ohio with their four children.



Sonza opened her own affiliate location of Sweat Like a Mother (S.L.A.M.) in March 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio, making her a “S.L.A.M. Boss.” S.L.A.M. is a holistic workout program for moms at any stage of motherhood. Sonza, a stay-at-home mom herself as well as a small-business owner, was an Engineering Psychology major at West Point, competed on the Boxing Team (she worked to ensure that it received club status before she graduated), and participated on the Academy’s Salsa Team. Sonza’s first assignment, in the 3rd Infantry Division Personnel Office, gave her a wider view of Army operations than most of her classmates were receiving at the time. She later learned that her superior had diverted her to a more challenging position when he saw “West Point” on her officer record brief. “I was already living up to the place I came from,” she realized. “I had a reputation based on where I graduated from.” While stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia and on maternity leave with her first child, Sonza fell in love with S.L.A.M. workouts. Still unsure of her future Army plans, she knew eventually she wanted to open a S.LA.M. location in her hometown. She left the Army in 2018 wanting to spend more time with her family. Today, she talks passionately about how she instills her and her husband’s love for West Point, their country, and service to the nation in her four young children. “At this stage of life, paying it forward is pouring it into my own kids,” she says.

Photos: Submitted; WPAOG archives

Jessica (Jordan) Sonza ’13


Ashley Ehasz ’10 Ehasz, who grew up in southeast Pennsylvania, constantly felt like she needed to prove herself at the Academy until her senior thesis advisor gave her valuable advice: When it comes to being a good officer in the Army, no one cares if you are a poor kid or a rich kid; what matters is the head on your shoulders, the decisions you make, and the courage you show. It doesn’t matter where you come from or where you are going, just do the right thing every time you can. “That really stuck with me because it got right to the heart of who I was and how I valued myself,” Ehasz says. She carried this advice with her as she went on to fly Apache helicopters, oftentimes the only woman pilot in her unit (or one of a few). Ehasz’s Army career took her to Fort Bliss, Texas; Kuwait; Iraq;

and Fort Riley, Kansas, where she commanded an aviation maintenance troop, rotating her unit through South Korea during her command. After ending her service in 2018, she attended the University of Oxford, receiving a Master of Philosophy in international development. She focused her research on human rights in Latin America, spending a summer living in Colombia during her academic work. She was the only veteran in her cohort and one of the few Americans. She was able to use her personal leadership experiences from West Point, the U.S. Army, and especially the Global War on Terrorism to provide unique input to her fellow students in the program, who also had life experiences that added new context and layers of understanding of international communities. Ehasz has a deep desire for public service that continues today. During the COVID pandemic, she worked in county government helping implement the CARES Act and currently works as a government and public service sector consultant.

Photos: USMA PAO; submitted

Orlando Sonza ’13 Orlando Sonza, Jessica’s classmate and husband, is a first-generation military member who set his sights on USMA when he was a young child. A Political Science major, Sonza was the command sergeant major for the Fourth Regiment and studied a semester abroad at the Brazilian Military Academy (BMA). While there, he realized how unique the West Point experience is, with its focus on being a well-rounded Army officer, in comparison to the military-focused education of BMA. He branched Infantry, but Sonza’s plans changed when he had an unexpected surgery before the start of Ranger School. He rebranched Finance and served in the 3rd Infantry Division. After four years, Sonza received a medical discharge, ending his dream for a military career but not his desire for service. “I don’t think you go to West Point unless you have an innate desire to serve your country,” Sonza says, “and the Academy provides the best training to do that from a leadership perspective.” Sonza remembers how West Point always emphasized to him and his classmates that they were being trained to lead and serve, but that it may not be necessarily in the military long term. “I didn’t appreciate that until I found out I was going to get medically discharged,” he says. His desire to continue his service to his community led him to become an accountant, first receiving a master’s in taxation at the University of Cincinnati and then pursuing his law degree from Georgetown Law. After first pursuing criminal law as an assistant prosecutor in Hamilton County, Ohio, he now currently practices business litigation. He and his wife have a unique story, and they are beginning to explore what it looks like to give back to West Point as young Old Grads together.

Ashley Ehasz ’10 and a warrant officer in her unit give a thumbs up in front of an Apache helicopter after finishing aerial gunnery training exercises at Fort Bliss, Texas.




Tom Dunn ’10 Dunn grew up in Chalfont, Pennsylvania and always liked a challenge. His two oldest brothers attended West Point (graduating in 2007 and 2008), and they introduced Dunn to their friends, Academy life, and its values. He immediately knew that West Point was a natural fit for him. Instead of following in his brothers’ footsteps and playing football, Dunn’s competitive spirit kicked in and he tried out for rugby, excelling on the rugby pitch. He charted his own path, double majoring in Economics and Spanish and studying abroad in Spain his cow year. Branching Infantry, Dunn attended Ranger, Airborne, and Air Assault schools after graduation before being assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany. While there, he deployed to Afghanistan, where he served as an executive officer and part of the operations staff. At the five-year mark, Dunn made the hard decision and departed the Army. Attending Harvard Business School, he received his

MBA and today works for Old Grad Bert Hensley ’83, Chairman and CEO of the executive search firm Morgan Samuels. The transition out of the Army was a challenge for Dunn. “I was unsure of myself,” he says. “I knew I did a great job in the military, but I found the process of transferring those skill sets to the civilian world to be a bit daunting.” Dunn found help in the form of veteran programs, nonprofits, and even other vets who have made the transition, including fellow Old Grads. Today, Dunn does not want others to leave the military and have the same uncertainties that he did. “I don’t think anyone has ever finished transitioning or struggling to find passion or purpose behind their work,” he said. He has been working with the CEO and founder of the University of Health and Performance in Bentonville, Arkansas to help veterans transition out of the military. The organization focuses on immersive health and fitness education designed to help transitioning personnel achieve their goals. As the company scales, Dunn is assisting the founder with their organizational design and leadership talent. Additionally, he has received certificates in bodybuilding and physical fitness and is working on a certificate in nutrition from the organization.

When the above subjects were asked what it means to be an Old Grad, they all said it was much more than a badge of honor or a “mandatory” yellow Old Grad t-shirt. After reflection, these young Old Grads offered a slate of related terms: “pride; fortitude; commitment to service; good stewards of the Academy, legacy, friendships, and professional relationships; representing West Point in all actions; and living up to a higher standard.” Each of these young Old Grads also mentioned the importance of the camaraderie and friendships with their classmates and other members of the Long Gray Line, with many saying that maintaining connections has become increasingly important since graduation.

Then 1LT Tom Dunn ’10 takes a selfie with a local child during a patrol of a village in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan in September 2013.



LTC (R) Christina Kretchman ’99 commissioned into the Army as an Aviation officer. She retired in 2019 from Fort Carson, Colorado where she was the 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Officer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and a Master of International Political Economy of Resources from Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado.

Photos: USMA PAO; submitted

The view of USMA in their rear-view mirrors may be getting smaller for each of these young Old Grads; yet, based on their paths so far, their view through their windshields is wide open and their futures are bright. They, and thousands more like them, are well on their way to becoming the established Old Grads of the Long Gray Line, ones who have been giving back to the nation for centuries in the name of their alma mater. 


Serving the Nation Gripping Hands WPAOG News We Serve You Eyes Right (R) Recognition

Photo: Erika Norton/WPAOG

“Never Quit”: The 2023 Nininger Recipient By Rebecca Rose, WPAOG staff



FORWARD MARCH Serving the Nation

Presented by the West Point Association of Graduates, the Nininger recipient serves as a given year’s representative of all West Point-commissioned officers who have heroically led soldiers in combat. Throughout his time as a cadet up until present day, Wood consistently chose not to quit and used his acceptance speech to urge cadets to do the same. Wood began by saying that as a cadet he considered himself “an academic rock.” During his first two years at the Academy, he spent summers on post due to his academic struggles. Rather than quit, Wood leaned on his classmates to overcome some of his academic and physical challenges. Eventually, he was able to develop techniques, tactics, and procedures that worked with how he learned best. Wood found that instead of simply reading, he had to “live the problem set or passage in a book,” and that “being there in the moment made the experience of academic absorption real.”

(L to R) COL (R) Mark D. Bieger ’91, President and CEO of the West Point Association of Graduates, LTC McKinley Wood ’01, the recipient of the 2023 Alexander R. Nininger Award, and LTG Steven W. Gilland ’90, 61st Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, during the presentation of the Nininger Award.



Once Wood discovered his “living in the moment” strategy, he used that tool to carry him through his military career. “The Army is all about living in the moment,” Wood said. “You know, if you’re dealing with a hard situation, whether it’s someone’s life or someone’s financial needs, it’s important to be able to completely place yourself in whatever is happening: mentally, physically, spiritually.” The lessons of teamwork and living in the moment provided Wood with perseverance during the heroic actions that led to him being honored as the 2023 Nininger Award recipient. On April 6-7, 2003, then First Lieutenant Wood displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as platoon leader of 3rd Platoon, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to Wood, who received a Silver Star for his actions, his unit fought using his battalion commander’s simplified rules of combat: 1) see the enemy before they see you, 2) make contact with the smallest element possible, and 3) maintain fire distribution and control. “These three rules of combat kept us alive,” Wood told the Corps. “It focused our minds on an unpredictable environment as we made contact with and went through the enemy.” Wood’s tank platoon received orders to establish a blocking position in northwest Baghdad to facilitate the capture of the international airport; however, Wood saw a problem with this mission. “The only way to attack our objective was a penetration,” he said. “Basically, the battalion would be in a column with minimum firepower forward against prepared defenses of militia, regular, and Republican Guard enemy soldiers.” As Wood and his team proceeded with the attack, the three rules of combat all came into play. Wood’s team was at the

Photo: Erika Norton/WPAOG

“I will never quit; I don’t know how to quit,” Lieutenant Colonel McKinley Wood ’01, the 2023 Alexander R. Nininger Award recipient, told the Corps of Cadets assembled in the Mess Hall for the Nininger ceremony, looking to inspire them to follow in his footsteps as future officers.

FORWARD MARCH Serving the Nation control came in the form of the lead tanks. “As platoon leader, it was my job to see where every person and barrel was pointing visually,” he said. “The battalion’s fire distribution and control manifested behind the lead elements, not servicing the same vehicle twice.” Never quitting, Wood’s team successfully completed its mission despite the unique hardships it faced in this battle. Wood also never quit gripping hands with the Long Gray Line. He recently chose to join the Army Reserve and train cadets this past summer. “It was an awesome experience,” he said. “It felt like I was back in a regular Army unit teaching soldiers how to be soldiers, and it felt really good to pass on my knowledge and experience.”

LTC McKinley Wood ’01, the recipient of the 2023 Alexander R. Nininger Award, poses with cadets in Washington Hall after the Nininger Award ceremony.

head of the column. As they approached their targets, they saw the enemy before the enemy saw them. Then, with Alpha section forward about 500 meters, the enemy could not decisively engage the entire battalion, creating the ability to maneuver against smaller elements. As Wood described it, “My wingman and I engaged infantry, armored personnel carriers, command tracks, and the occasional T-55 or T-72 tank that decided to try their luck, which allowed the Task Force commander to develop options to force commitment.” Finally, fire distribution and

Just like the award’s namesake, Second Lieutenant Alexander R. Nininger ’41, who was posthumously awarded the first Medal of Honor in World War II for advancing in a counterattack despite his wounds and destroying enemy positions until he was killed on January 12, 1942 near Abucay, Bataan, Lieutenant Colonel McKinley Wood embodies a never-quit attitude, making him an admirable representative of all West Point commissioned officers and an inspiration for the Corps of Cadets. “I would challenge everyone in the Corps today to try and define what quitting means to them at a deeply personal level,” Wood said during the conclusion of his acceptance speech, adding: “If you are not able to come up with an answer quickly, you might be the type of person who does not know what quitting is; if you are able to define what quitting means to you, don’t worry, you have defined the problem set and found half the solution. Even in class, you’ll get some credit for a partial solution. You will only need to execute the answer.” 

Photo: Erika Norton/WPAOG

Listen to the “Don’t Quit, Never Quit” podcast with LTC McKinley Wood ’01 on the WPAOG Broadcast Network.

LTC McKinley Wood ’01, the recipient of the 2023 Alexander R. Nininger Award, participates in an engagement session with cadets taking DS345: Military Innovation.



FORWARD MARCH Serving the Nation

Reserve Service Last year, a group of cadets taking part in a USCC leadership development program visited Fort Belvoir, Virginia and had the opportunity to meet with current U.S. Army Reserve general officers. Over lunch, these general officers explained to the cadets what they do in their civilian careers and what they do in the Army Reserve. The cadets were surprised to learn about their path to leadership. They had no idea that such an option existed in the Army. Neither do most grads. Major General Deb Kotulich ’90 (USAR), the incoming Deputy Chief of Army Reserve, hopes to change that.

“We’ve been focused on the active component for many years out of necessity; now we need to start looking at the Reserve and National Guard. There’s more West Point grads can do in these arenas as we start to focus on the total force.” —MG Deb Kotulich ’90 (USAR) “Back in my day, the Army had a strategic Reserve, and it was often viewed pejoratively by those in active duty,” says Kotulich. “With the Global War on Terrorism, the Reserve was mobilized for a consistent deployment and is now an Operational Force.” Kotulich cites Task Force Spartan—National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve units mobilized with active Army units through Operation Spartan Shield to maintain a U.S. military posture in the Middle East—as an example of this. “Today’s Army senior leaders know and understand the role that the Guard and Reserve play in the Army’s ability to fight our nation’s wars,” she says. “In my view, there are better prepared units in today’s Reserve, ready for whatever mission they need to achieve, and I’m inspired to be part of building the leaders and training the soldiers for our Compo 3 [U.S. Army Reserve] formations.”



MG Deb Kotulich ’90 (USAR) served as keynote speaker for the U.S. Army Reserve Legal Command Dining Out at the West Point Club in November 2023.

There are 1,760 West Point graduates serving in the Compo 3 Reserve today, including a number of successful general officers, Silver Star recipients, and many others who are doing great things in service to the nation. “Just look at Lieutenant Colonel Rubio or, in the National Guard, General Dan Hokanson ’86, the 29th Chief of the National Guard Bureau,” Kotulich says. “The examples are plentiful.” Furthermore, for those who are in the dark about what service opportunities are available after separation from active duty, Kotulich notes that the Compo 3 Army Reserve is the majority of the total Army’s sustainment, military police, and engineer capabilities and more. “As an example, the Reserve handles 80 percent of sustainment operations for the Army: food, fuel, transportation, repairs, distribution, and more,” she says. “The Reserve is integral to the total force.” Kotulich, who previously served as the Director of the Army Recruiting and Retention Task Force before her current role, states that if active duty doesn’t suit a younger grad’s situation after his or her service obligation from West Point, there are options for continuing the mission, the camaraderie, and the leadership opportunities. One program to consider is the career intermission program. An active-duty officer may choose to take a year off to take care of a personal matter or pursue a professional matter. According to Kotulich, grads just need to leave the door ajar as they are separating so that they can come back if circumstances change or if they discover that they miss serving. “We’ve been focused on the active component for many years out of necessity, but we also need to look at the Reserve and National Guard,” says Kotulich. “There’s more West Point grads can do in these arenas, allowing us to focus on the total force.”

Photo: Submitted

“Starting in 2024, we are going to be sending USMAcommissioned general officers to cover the Service Academy Career Conference [SACC],” Kotulich says. “We want to make sure that those West Point junior officers who are looking to separate are aware that they can continue serving the nation through a Reserve option.” Kotulich notes that during the 2023 San Diego SACC, held last August, Colonel (Promotable) Brandi Peasley ’94 explained the Reserve path to West Point grad attendees, several of whom opted to continue to serve.

FORWARD MARCH Gripping Hands

Grip hands—though it be from the shadows—while we swear as you did of yore, or living or dying, to honor the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps.” —Bishop Shipman, 1902

1965 LTC Frank Rubio ’98 (USAR) is helped out of the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft minutes after landing in Kazakhstan on September 27, 2023.

Rubio’s Record On September 27, 2023, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Rubio ’98 (USAR), a NASA astronaut, touched down in Kazakhstan after spending an American record-breaking 371 days in space. Rubio launched into space on September 21, 2022, arriving at the International Space Station for what became a yearlong (plus six-day) mission. “Frank’s record-breaking time in space is not just a milestone; it’s a major contribution to our understanding of long-duration space missions,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “NASA is immensely grateful for Frank’s dedicated service to our nation and the invaluable scientific contributions he made on the International Space Station.” During his more than 5,930 orbits of Earth, Rubio conducted scientific tasks ranging from plant research to physical sciences studies. Furthermore, his extended time in space provided NASA researchers the opportunity to observe the effects of long-term spaceflight on humans, as the agency plans a return to the Moon through the Artemis mission as well as a future exploration to Mars.

GEN (R) Shinseki Receives Marshall Medal The Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) awarded its highest honor for selfless service, the George Catlett Marshall Medal, to GEN (R) Eric Shinseki ’65, a former Army Chief of Staff and former Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Marshall Medal is named for the Army officer and statesman who led the Army, the State Department and Defense Department. Shinseki received the medal on the final day of AUSA’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition, saying he was “deeply humbled” to receive the award. Shinseki served two tours in Vietnam and was wounded twice in combat. He commanded at all levels and, in June 1997, became the first Asian American to reach the rank of four-star general. Shinseki served as the 34th Army Chief of Staff from June 1999 to June 2003, and he was VA Secretary from January 2009 to May 2014.

Photo: Bill Ingalls/NASA

Over the course of his 371 days in space, Rubio flew a journey of more than 157 million miles aboard the space station, roughly the equivalent of 328 trips to the Moon and back. However, demonstrating the immensity of space, his journey approximately equals only two-thirds the distance to Mars (and it does not factor in the return trip!). Still, as Nelson points out, “Frank embodies the true pioneer spirit that will pave the way for future exploration.” Prior to Rubio’s record, the longest single spaceflight by a U.S. astronaut (355 days) belonged to U.S. Army Colonel Mark Vande Hei, who taught in the Department of Physics & Nuclear Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. 



FORWARD MARCH Gripping Hands


Bill Foley Named Honorary Commander of NVNG

On November 3, 2023, Bill Foley ’67, owner of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and a 2016 Distinguished Graduate Award recipient, was named an honorary commander of the Nevada Army National Guard (NVNG). “Given all he has done for our community and nation, Bill Foley is the type of person the honorary commander program was made for,” said BG Troy Armstrong, Assistant Adjutant General NVNG. During the ceremony, MG Ondra Berry, the Adjutant General for the State of Nevada, and other NVNG leaders praised Foley for his accomplishments in the business world, his commitment to philanthropy, and his history of military service. Foley served in the U.S. Air Force, attaining the rank of captain. Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo also proclaimed November 3 as a day in honor of Foley.


GEN George Named CSA

On September 21, 2023, GEN Randy A. George ’88 was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in as the 41st Chief of Staff of the Army after most recently serving as the 38th Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. At the time, George was more than 3,000 miles away from the Pentagon visiting the soldiers and leaders of the 11th Airborne Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright, Alaska. He took the oath of office via a phone call with Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth.

White House Fellow MAJ Verardo Appointed to National Security Council

MAJ Elizabeth Verardo ’07, a 2023-24 White House fellow, was appointed to the National Security Council. Verardo has served multiple combat deployments as an Apache helicopter pilot and was most recently the senior aviation advisor for a Stryker Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Carson, Colorado and served as operations officer for the 4th Infantry Division’s Air Cavalry Squadron. Outside of operational assignments, she has taught American politics and American foreign policy as an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy. Verardo is an active term member at the Council on Foreign Relations and a 2014 Pat Tillman Scholar. She earned a B.S. in American Politics from USMA, an M.A. in Defense and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, and an M.A. in Global Affairs from Yale University’s Jackson School of Global Affairs.



Photos: U.S.Army; submitted



WPAOG Entrepreneur Summit In October, the WPAOG West Point Entrepreneur Summit traveled to the West Coast for the first time, gathering over 170 USMA graduate entrepreneurs, business leaders, and investors in San Francisco. The two-day conference provided a space for alumni to collaborate and share different entrepreneurial practices, creating long-term networking value across the Long Gray Line. The keynote speaker for the summit was Anthony Noto ’91, current CEO at SoFi and former COO of Twitter and CFO of the NFL. Dawn Halfaker ’01 also hosted a lunch keynote, and France Hoang ’95 and other graduates provided panels, fireside chats, and one-on-one mentorship sessions to attendees, increasing the group’s educational value by welcoming a wide spectrum of thought and experiences. The next summit is planned for October 2024 in the DC area. This annual, awardwinning event is mainly funded by charitable donations from gradowned businesses and continues to further WPAOG’s Vision of being the most highly connected alumni body in the world.

View Entrepreneur Summit photos:

Did You Miss It? WPAOG Podcast Recaps

Photos: Erika Norton/WPAOG; WPAOG archives

The WPAOG Podcast had a stellar lineup last fall. If you missed it, go back and check out “Inspiring Innovation,” with Superintendent LTG Steve Gilland ’90 and Dean BG Shane Reeves ’96, during which the Superintendent and the Dean talk about encouraging conversation and fostering innovation at the Academy, the exciting expectations for West Point’s brand new Innovation Hub, and announce this year’s intellectual theme: Innovation, Technology, and the Future of National Defense. There’s also “Leaders Never Arrive,” with GEN (R) Scott Miller ’83. In this episode, to honor

the 30 years since the Battle of Mogadishu, COL Sean Morrow ’01, Director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, sits down with Miller, a 2023 DGA awardee, to talk about the general’s experiences with the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment in Somalia, as the commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, as the final commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, and his continuous involvement in West Point after transitioning out of the military.

Check out WPAOG Podcasts:




CONNECT Blasts Off This Fall It was a productive fall semester for WPAOG’s CONNECT after-school program for Highland Falls students grades three to eight. In addition to regular homework help and extracurricular activities, CONNECT held “Rocket Day at West Point.” Cadets from the Army Rocketry and Engineering Sciences Team taught the CONNECT students about trajectory, drag, and the necessary combustion to get a rocket off the ground. Teams then launched gold, blue, and red rockets in the hope of earning the “Best Rocket Team” title. Each launch was preceded by the obligatory countdown and followed with loud screams as the rockets took flight. Then all eyes went to the sky in an attempt to spy their team’s descending parachute and rocket. According to Christine McDonald, the CONNECT Program Director, “CONNECT students cannot wait for their Army friends to come back and teach them something new.”

Read more on the CONNECT website:

WPAOG’s Newest Golf Cart Families visiting West Point now have a new transportation option, thanks to a generous donation by Timothy (Tim) and Janice Surdyke through the Cadet Thomas Surdyke Memorial Foundation Endowment. The gift of a six-passenger golf cart this fall was in honor of their son, Thomas (Tom) Surdyke, a member of the Class of 2019, who died in June 2016 saving the life of a drowning stranger. Tom’s heroic action fulfilled his personal mission from his West Point entrance essay: “I want to dedicate my life to serve and protect those who are not able to do so for themselves. A career in the military is not only something I desire; it is something I truly feel called to do.” Tom was posthumously awarded the Soldiers Medal.

The Annual Meeting of the membership of the West Point Association of Graduates shall take place on Tuesday, November 19, 2024, at 5:00 pm Eastern Time at the Herbert Alumni Center, West Point, New York. At the Annual Meeting, the 2024 election of members of the Board of Directors and at-large members of the Advisory Council shall take place. Information on the nomination process for Director and Advisory-at-Large positions is published at WestPointAOG.org/ about/governance/wpaog-nominating-policy/



Photos: Erika Norton/WPAOG

Announcement of WPAOG 2024 Annual Meeting


WPAOG Career Services: Filling an Important Gap

By CPT Brian Gerardi ’13, Guest Author

Langston Hughes—an American poet, social activist, novelist, and playwright, best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance—once asked: “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” For a small percentage of West Point graduates, the dream of serving as a commissioned leader of character is indeed deferred and sometimes unrealized.

graduation requirements. These cadets are often left feeling alone and unsupported as they try to navigate what comes next with the help of friends or mentors who have faced a similar situation. Some are placed on a leave of absence and reassessed at a later date, though several have disqualifying conditions that require them to seek employment elsewhere, which is a daunting task for someone who had spent years training and hoping to lead soldiers.

Photo: Erika Norton/WPAOG

The West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG) fills an important gap here for these graduates. Cadets who find out late during their time at the Academy that they will not be permitted to commission often have fewer transition resources than what are available for transitioning soldiers. After their initial enlistment or service obligation, soldiers and officers can take advantage of Skill Bridge internships and transition workshops sponsored by the Army. Cadets, on the other hand, head home Each year, approximately 10 graduating cadets (about one percent of the graduating class) will face a medical challenge that after graduation and contemplate what is next while their commissioned classmates travel and prepare for BOLC over prevents them from commissioning with their class, and graduation block leave. WPAOG’s Career Services has been sometimes from even commissioning at all. When such an issue is identified early in their cadet career, many of these cadets move steadfastly supporting transitioning grads through its various on to other schools or opportunities; however, there are a handful programs since the early 1990s, though its efforts to assist noncommissioning grads over the last two years have been a of cadets that find out about a medical issue during their pregreat indicator of WPAOG’s Career Services’ commitment to all commissioning physical, often after completing all other members of the Long Gray Line.

With the assistance of WPAOG, members of the classes of 2022 and 2023 were able to attend the Washington, DC SACC. Some of the noncommissioned graduates from 2022 attended in 2023, working to identify talent for their new companies.



FORWARD MARCH We Serve You Recently WPAOG Career Services supported noncommissioning firsties in good standing in a trip to the Service Academy Career Conference (SACC) in Washington, DC. While the switch from preparing to lead a platoon to writing a resume and learning how to network can be a major shift, these soon-to-be grads were in good hands. Ahmond Hill ’02, WPAOG’s Director of Career Services, and his staff of career advisors have been instrumental in helping these cadets navigate their first-ever job fair, as well as preparing them ahead of time with headshots, resume-writing assistance, LinkedIn profile creation, and industry research. In May 2023, Deloitte hosted a CORE (Career Opportunity Redefinition Exploration) Leadership workshop in Herbert Alumni Center ahead of the 2023 SACC in DC to help prepare transitioning service members. The workshop was designed to help individuals think deeply about their purpose, their strengths, and their goals; most of the non-commissioning cadets from the Class of 2023 attended. Hill notes, “Last year, we assisted and placed 20-plus graduates, who, through no fault of their own, were identified as being non-commissionable after graduation.”

“Last year, we assisted and placed 20-plus graduates, who, through no fault of their own, were identified as being non-commissionable after graduation.” —Ahmond Hill ’02, WPAOG Director of Career Services

Non-commissioning graduates join the Long Gray Line each year and are instrumental in helping mentor those that follow behind. Many non-commissioning graduates with established civilian careers are well positioned to aid their commissioned classmates as they transition from active duty at various times in their careers. 

CPT Brian Gerardi ’13 originally commissioned as an Aviation officer but branch-tranferred to Field Artillery. He has served as a company fire support officer, battery executive officer, and company commander. In 2021, he earned an MA in social and organizational psychology from Columbia University and currently serves as an instructor for MX400: Officership and the program manager for Special Leader Development Programs at the Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic.

Joshua Loyd ’22 is currently running for U.S. Congress out of Illinois.



Photos: Joshua Lloyd; Maggie O’Neill

Maggie O’Neill ’22 partook in a horticulture technician internship at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.


Inspiring Stories from SACC Since 1994, the West Point Association of Graduates has been partnering with the other federal service academies to offer the quarterly Service Academy Career Conference (SACC). Hundreds of grads transitioning from military service to the corporate environment have found success through SACC. Here are three recent success stories:

Dan Wilson ’79 Colonel Daniel (Dan) Wilson ’79 (Retired) and his son, Conor Wilson ’13, attended the 2023 SACC event in Jacksonville, Florida, together. At the time, Dan’s son had recently completed his service in the Army, while Dan himself had served for over 27 years. Following his retirement from the Army, Dan had a successful civilian career in Korea for 16 years, working for notable organizations such as KBI, SAIC, and LG Electronics. Conor, as a young Old Grad, was immediately hired following the Jacksonville SACC, and Dan, an “older” Old Grad, has benefitted greatly from SACC, which assisted him in finding meaningful employment. Through the networks at SACC, Dan found contract employment with organizations who need and value a strong and experienced military career as well as the knowledge and the ability to “maneuver” in an environment that takes very special training and a unique skillset. “Just walking the floor and learning about companies I would never have considered was useful for me,” Dan said. Dan’s and Conor’s success stories show that SACC provides a valuable opportunity for military retirees of all generations.

Photos: Submitted

Megan Nelson ’10 Resilience and a sense of purpose led to an extraordinary transformation for Megan Nelson ’10. A few years ago, Nelson’s daughter was diagnosed with severe neuroblastoma cancer. Nelson and her husband, also a USMA 2010 grad, were thrown into a world of medical jargon and critical decisions as they fought to save their child’s life. Two years of relentless hospital stays during a pandemic turned Nelson into an expert in her daughter’s condition. Thankfully, her daughter recovered, and Nelson longed to return to work. Her husband encouraged her to attend a SACC in 2022, where she sat in on the Kite Pharma (a Gilead Company) discussion. Their presentation was unique, combining cancer stories with a profound sense of purpose. Nelson accepted a position with Kite, where her military expertise in operations was a perfect fit. The leadership skills Nelson honed at West Point and her dedication to a mission resonate with Kite’s vision and her commitment to making a difference in the lives of young cancer

patients. “I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t come to SACC,” she said. Today, not only is she working for one of the best cell therapy companies in the world, she was also appointed to the Foundation Board of Trustees for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where she advocates for less toxic and more effective therapies for pediatric cancer patients like her daughter.

Sean McBryde ’17 In 2022, Sean McBryde ’17, an ROTC professor in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, decided it was time to transition out of the Army. While on leave, he attended the 2022 SACC in Dallas, Texas. Within an hour of arriving, McBryde was asked to participate in an interview with NextEra Energy, one of the world’s largest generators of renewable wind energy with an estimated workforce of 15,000, and was offered a job on the spot. McBryde had been so inspired by his experience at SACC in 2022, that he asked his boss if he could join the NextEra recruiting team at the 2023 SanDiego SACC conference. McBryde knew he could have impact on potential hires, especially those transitioning from the military, based on his own experience. This marked McBryde’s first “personal” mission since joining NextEra. His mission proved to be a winwin-win: transitioning soldiers, including members of the Long Gray Line, were given the opportunity to interview with an organization making a difference in the world; NextEra added experienced, knowledgeable and passionate leaders to their team; and McBryde was given the opportunity to attend future SACCs as a recruiter for NextEra. “I didn’t realize that so many doors would open for me as a West Point graduate,” he said, “and there is no better way to transition from the military to a civilian career than to participate in SACC.”  Learn more about SACC and its upcoming events in 2024.




A West Point Story

By CPT Madison Daugherty ’19, Guest Author

Imagine a “good cadet.” Picture the cadet in crisp India whites, red sash cinched across the waist, ring securely affixed to the finger, with stars and wreaths and wings glistening on the chest. Imagine someone in a position of responsibility and effortlessly mixing with foreign dignitaries. Imagine the unrivaled “best of the best of the best” that West Point has to offer. Now, imagine a “bad cadet.” Picture her in disheveled whiteover-gray, red sash limp at her waist, with her nametape on the wrong side of her chest. It’s on the wrong side because no one noticed it—not even her—before she reported with her chain of command to the Commandant’s Office. Imagine her positioned on the carpet she can’t look up from and shamefully plodding the pavement in Central Area. Imagine the unrivaled worst of what West Point has to offer. I’m her. And this is a West Point story.

“I don’t think people want to hear from me: I wasn’t a ‘good cadet,’” I softly murmured to John Higgins ’87. He replied, “I think you have something valuable to share. Make it constructive. Teach us something we don’t know a lot about, and you’ll do great.” And then he gave me a prompt: How did West Point prepare you to serve and succeed? What did West Point teach you? I had no illusions that I would share earth-shattering revelations about the West Point experience or profound insight regarding today’s junior military officers. Instead, it was my goal, and my sincerest hope, that my testimony would be a mirror in which every graduate and cadet could see themselves—a mirror that reflects the sting of failure, the power of adversity, the sweetness of success, and the grace of redemption. Against the backdrop of dinner chatter and the soft clinking of silverware, an audience expecting to hear inside jokes about



CPT Madison Daugherty ’19 and her husband, CPT Lee Kantowski ’17, at her promotion ceremony on Lake Union in Seattle, Washington on May 19, 2023.

Dean’s Hour naps or quirky anecdotes about my first days as a platoon leader instead heard me begin describing my time in the Academy Mentorship Program (AMP). I retold the story of being remanded to AMP on May 17, 2017 of my firstie year—10 days before graduation—after being found guilty of an honor violation. I was assigned as a 31B Military Police Specialist on orders to Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and then to the 504th Military Police Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. After successfully completing the program and demonstrating professional-ethical behavior and commitment, I could reapply to resume my journey to graduation and commissioning. In front of a hushed audience, I laid bare the shame, anger, and bitterness I felt leaving West Point “in the rearview mirror” as a failure. I recounted my own icy disdain when I arrived at the Military Entrance Processing Station, reporting to Bravo Company, 787th Military Police Battalion. I didn’t deserve to be there, and I turned my nose up at how beneath me all of it was. In truth, it’s something I’m deeply ashamed to admit, but it’s how I felt at the time. My throat burned as I told the WPS-WA1 audience about befriending my fellow trainees and how I quickly realized that the “worst thing” that had ever happened to me was the greatest

Photo: Submitted

I didn’t expect much from the 2023 West Point Society of Washington’s (WPS-WA1) Founders Day celebration. At best, I could practice networking before transitioning out of the Army next spring. At worst, it would be a reminder of the scar tissue that said I was hardly worthy of being an “Old Grad.” So, when I was notified that I would be expected to give the “youngest grad” speech, I was sure there had been a mistake. There needed to be a mistake—whatever shreds of dignity and self-preservation I typically clung to in these circles depended on it.

FORWARD MARCH Eyes Right opportunity some of them have ever had, or will ever have, in their entire lives. I was right—I didn’t deserve to be there; but I had the opportunity to be there, and that opportunity became one of the greatest honors I’ve ever known. Each of these soldiers represented real people I would someday be called to serve, care for, and lead. Each of them was a real person with real problems—complicated home lives, financial hardships, emotional wounds, and personal traumas—but they also possessed incredible gifts. The gravity and comprehension of their individual commitments to service humbled me, and a new foundation was leveled and made clean. The acceptance, love, and camaraderie I experienced from total strangers transformed me. It made me want to be the kind of leader that cared about all my soldiers’ problems, not just the ones I’m supposed to. I concluded my speech with the question posed: “What did West Point teach me? West Point taught me a lot, arguably much more than the average cadet. And I stand before you a woman of integrity, determination, and grit because of it… and I am forever grateful.”

Photo: Submitted

My story finally spoken. The span of two years recounted in just eight minutes. I slowly lifted my gaze, preparing myself for skeptical glances and sidelong whispers, and watched—in shock—as the room erupted in applause and a wave of standing ovations. It took everything for me not to buckle under the emotions filling my chest. I had shown them the mirror and they hadn’t seen a “bad cadet”; they had seen themselves.

What followed in the hours, days, and months since was nothing short of surreal. That night I gripped hands with countless members of the Long Gray Line, misty eyed and smiling, who said things like: • I went through something similar, and I’ve never felt good enough. You have no idea how much you’ve done tonight. • Our son/daughter is a cadet right now. I wish they could’ve heard your speech. • We didn’t have the Academy Mentorship Program in my day. I think we lost some great people who would’ve benefitted from a second chance. The response was so overwhelming that I published the speech on LinkedIn and was flooded with messages, emails, and phone calls from grads and non-grads who all saw themselves in the mirror. Each message was unique, but the same themes reflected on the surface. Many grads empathized with my story, while sharing deeply personal anecdotes of their own and calling themselves “bad cadets” in the process. I understood they didn’t mean “bad cadet”; they were really saying: “I was unconventional, too”; “I also needed a second chance”; and “Like you, I kept going and it made me better.” One of the most impactful messages I received was from a cadet. This cadet, like me, violated the honor code and had punishments meted out: hundreds of walking hours; loss of pay, rank, and privileges; and placement into the Special Leader Development Program for Honor. As I listened to the cadet’s story I was struck by the maturity and humility displayed, and

1LT Kantowski administering the Oath of Office to 2LT Daugherty on Graduation Day, May 25, 2019, at Trophy Point.



FORWARD MARCH Eyes Right something both old and familiar knotted in my stomach when the cadet expressed difficulty coping with how raw and vulnerable things still felt. The cadet shared aspirations to eventually branch combat arms and join the Special Forces community. We remain in touch, and I could not be more proud or excited for this cadet. Few could walk the road this person is on. No one will convince me otherwise. Finally, I received a message that simply read: “THIS is a West Point story!” I read that message and had an epiphany. This is a West Point story, but it isn’t mine alone. It’s a story shared by many. If my story resonates, I can assure you it has very little to do with me and everything to do with the people that make it worth telling. It’s a story of a cadet that is at West Point right now, as you read this, fighting tooth and nail to be worthy at the finish line. It’s a story of my three friends who also matriculated through AMP—Ben, Justin, and Brad—and returned to West Point from the 82d Airborne Division with Ranger Tabs and airborne wings. It’s a story that reminds us that we’ve all fallen short but remain capable of serving others and our Army honorably. 

SPC Daugherty shakes hands with her drill sergeant after successfully completing basic training and advanced individual training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in March 2018.

CPT Madison Daugherty ’19 is a battalion operations officer with the U.S. Army Seattle Recruiting Battalion. She received her MBA from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business in 2022 and will be transitioning out of the Army in May 2024. Madison is married to Lee Kantowski, her former USMA 2017 classmate, and—after walking 100 hours together their firstie year—maintains that “their story” is her favorite. “So Others May Dream”; “So Freedom May Reign”; Go Army, Beat Navy!

Then CDTs Daugherty and Kantowski during Ring Weekend in 2016.

(R) Recognition

WPAOG’s Military Retiree Recognition Program honors our military retirees for their service and sacrifice. If you retired on October 1, 2018 or later, you and three guests are eligible for a free Grad Insider Tour, as well as a free night at The Thayer Hotel, subject to restrictions. We will also publish your name in West Point magazine, with your permission. If you wish to participate, please contact retiree@wpaog.org to learn more.





COL Richard C. Bell Jr.


LTC Zaheer Malik


COL Chad M. Roehrman


COL Kevin M. Woods


LTC Betty P. Myrthil


Photos: Submitted

WPAOG Military Retiree Recognition Program


15 West Point Women Endure 2023 RAGBRAI When it began in 1973, the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) had less than 300 participants; this past summer, for its 50th anniversary ride, the approximately 500-mile, weeklong ride through the small and midsize towns in Iowa had tens of thousands of riders. Fifteen of those riders were members of the West Point Women (WPW) group, including Casey Moes ’99. “I started riding RAGBRAI with my mom when I was a teenager,” Moes says. When her mom, a veteran of 27 RAGBRAIs, passed in August 2020, Moes rode the following summer with her mom’s team, the Donner Party, in honor of her mother. “RAGBRAI has done many things for me,” she says. “I earned my first Army award riding for the Des Moines Recruiting Battalion in 2001, and it has been a way to reconnect with my home state and family.”

headwinds of the ride, inspiring one another to do our daily best on the road and after the ride.” Halfway through this year’s route, which changes annually, the WPW were hosted by the Nosco and Schwartz families of the West Point Society of Central Iowa. “They gave us the perfect A/C reset and recharge,” says Moes. “It was a terrific example of how deep our Army and West Point connections run across the Long Gray Line.” 

In July, Moes, along with 14 other WPW, ranging from the Class of 1982 through 1999, saddled up for the physical and emotional test of endurance of the 2023 RAGBRAI. They were joined by three other women who epitomized the grace, stamina, and demeanor of WPW. “The RAGBRAI with the WPW team was a reminder of just how good we—women, mothers, corporate executives, senior Army leaders—are and can be,” Moes says. “We bonded while enduring the heat, hills, and

Photo: Submitted

The 50th anniversary route of the 2023 RAGBRAI, which took place between July 22-29, 2023.

The 15 members of the West Point Women group, including Casey Moes ’99 (back row center), pose for a photo before stepping off on Day 1 of the 500-mile, weeklong 2023 RAGBRAI across the state of Iowa (not pictured are Suzanne Hickey ’84 and Stacey Fredenberg ’84, who supported the team but could not ride this year).



Deaths reported from June 16, 2023 – September 15, 2023


We regret that, because of limited space, we cannot publish all letters received. Letters may be edited and shortened for space. Submit comments or questions to editor@wpaog.org, or chat with us on one of our WPAOG social media channels. FROM: LTC (R) Paul R. Smith ’77 Recently I was reading the latest edition of West Point magazine. The comment about the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 on the Plain attracted my attention. Carmine Cocchia is quoted as saying, “We had to do something that hadn’t been done in 100 years (hold Graduation on the Plain)…” As a member of the Class of 1977, I must correct the record. On June 8, 1977, our class graduated on the Plain. The reason for our doing so was not so dramatic as COVID. Michie Stadium was unavailable because it was undergoing a major renovation to install artificial turf on the field.

Coincidentally, one year before the Class of 2020 had its graduation on the Plain, WPAOG published the accompanying picture of the Class of 1977’s graduation on the Plain. This was done as part of WPAOG’s “On This Day” series to celebrate the Association of Graduates’ 150th anniversary. Here’s a notable fact regarding the Class of 1977 highlighted in that OTD entry: It was the last class with Cullum numbers issued sequentially according to the Order of Merit List (subsequent classes were and continue to be numbered alphabetically). FROM: Lt. Col. (R) David Ray ’57 In the 2023 Fall issue of your great magazine, the article on pages 18–22 (“Through Rival Eyes: The Service Academy Exchange Program”) indicates that only about 20 cadets are selected to participate in the exchange program between the service academies. During my cow year, my classmates and I spent about five days or so at Annapolis. It was an eyeopening experience for me. I hope I misinterpreted the article, and all cadets participate.



RESPONSE: The program you mentioned that took place in your cow year was a class-wide, multiday experience at Annapolis. The Service Academy Exchange Program discussed in the article is semesterlong program, approximately four and a half months. This is why only 20 cadets are selected to participate (some go to USNA, some go to USAFA, and a few go to the USCGA). Each program, of course, is eye opening in its own way, as you noted for yourself. FROM: LTC G. Adam Hodges ’98 Just wanted to send a quick note and say, “Well Done!” on the 2023 Fall issue of West Point magazine. I always look forward to receiving the next edition and once again, you put out a terrific product. Keep up the great work and Beat Navy! RESPONSE: We are thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the 2023 Fall issue! We hope that you are enjoying the 2024 Winter issue just as much. As you may have noticed, this new issue looks a little different from past issues of West Point magazine. We have transitioned from themed issues (e.g. the 2023 Fall issue was themed “How the World Sees West Point”), and we are now adding more department material: “Attention!” (see pp. 5-16 in this issue) has sections dedicated to USMA news, and “Forward March” (see pp. 43-57) includes stories about the great things grads are doing for the nation, inspiring profiles of grads, and informative articles about the services WPAOG offers. If you have story ideas for these new departments (e.g. a son or daughter doing something amazing in the Corps, a young officer making a unique impact on the Army, or an “Old Grad” doing something that could inspire others), please send them to editor@wpaog.org.

Photo: WPAOG archives

RESPONSE: We heard from several members of “Esprit de Corps” on this matter. Yes, Mr. Cocchia misspoke in the “Promoting the Brand, Protecting the Brand” article in the 2023 Fall issue; however, West Point magazine’s editorial review process should have noticed this factual error before the issue went to print. We take full responsibility and apologize to the Class of 1977. We have changed the text on page 10 of the 2023 Fall online edition to read, “We had to do something that hadn’t been done in 43 years.” We have also changed the bolded pull quote on the online page to match this new text.

Photos: [Names listed here as needed]

Throughout the year, you may be asked to contribute to the following funds, each of which supports the Academy and WPAOG in important ways. Please accept our deepest gratitude for your support. Superintendent’s and West Point Parents Fund unrestricted funds for cadets and the Academy

Long Gray Line Fund

Class Gift Funds restricted by classes in reunion campaigns

Other Restricted Funds restricted for specific programs

unrestricted funds for WPAOG alumni programs

Army A Club unrestricted funds for intercollegiate athletics WEST POINT / WINTER 2024


Deaths reported from June 16, 2023 – September 15, 2023

Class “Quotes”

Q: What tips would you offer to plebes on how to survive Gloom Period? A:

“Go to Victor Constant Ski Area and learn to ski: you’ll never get a better chance! If you already ski, volunteer to be a youth activity ski instructor: it’s a blast! It’s also a great way to meet other cadets and adults with who you may later serve.”

A: “Join a cadet club that has a Gloom Period trip away

from West Point, or catch a freight train out of West Point. Hahahaha!”

Says COL (R) Brooke Myers ’83 and her husband, BG (R) John Howard ’64, who attended the Academy during a time when plebes were not allowed to leave for Christmas. (Can you guess which quote belongs to whom?) They report that they are living on the North Carolina coast and enjoy traveling with family. Their grandson 1LT Will Butler ’19 is serving in the 1st Ranger Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia, and another grandson, Walter Chesney, is applying for the Class of 2028.

A: “Stay active and get out in the midst of the gloom and

embrace the fact that you’re in the world’s No. 1 leadership institution! Run, walk, challenge yourself, take up a new hobby, or help out a classmate. Turn Gloom, into BOOM by using these winter months to better yourself. That’s what I did when I was there as a plebe, 40 years ago!”

time fly (pun intended). I found that playing cribbage helped pass the time. A few of my classmates and I started tournaments in 1965. My Ranger buddy and I still play when we get together (he has one more win than I do). So, my advice is: find something you like to do and get others involved.” Says LTC (R) Bill Rynearson ’69, a retired consulting civil engineer who stays active as the board president at his condominium and, with the help of his wife, Peggy, keeping up with his two grandsons in southern Indiana.

Photos: Erika Norton/WPAOG; USMA PAO

Says Gregg Schuliger ’87, who is thrilled to be serving as business development director USA for a global food and beverage label manufacturer. “My best to all of my ’87 classmates and to my G-2 ‘Gator’ companymates! Go Army Cake and soda!”

A: “As an avid fly fisherman, I would tie flies to help the



A: “Just think about how great winter Ranger School in


the Mountains and Florida swamp will be after graduation .” Says COL (R) Frank Monaco ’70, who lives in Carmel, New York with his wife, Paulette. While he laments that his class’s 50th reunion was a casualty of COVID in 2020, he’s happy to report that he’s still following his life’s passion, computers, which was ignited in him as a cadet thanks to EF489: Senior Design Project. As proof, he currently serves as the CIO and webmaster for the Class of 1970 “Serve With Integrity!”

A: “Arvin is the best gym in the Army. Use it to stay fit during the gray days!”

Says MAJ Brandon Benson ’11, who currently resides in Olympia, Washington with his wife, Lisa (a former cadet), with whom he often worked out in Arvin Gym. In addition to working out at various gyms, Brandon and Lisa stay in shape by trying to keep up with their three children: Brandon Jr. (10 years old), Maya (8 years old), and Aaliyah (6 years old).

A: “Take a train with a few friends down to New York

City. Snow, sleet, or shine—walk around St. Patrick’s Cathedral, take a tour of Yankee Stadium, jog around Central Park, or go to one of the many museums. There are so many things there that millions of people across the world dream of seeing. One of my fondest memories is walking down an empty Park Avenue during a blizzard in the Gray Season. No cars, no bikes, just a few pals taking in a rare moment in time. One of my most treasured photos to date.” Says CPT Marco Amalfitano ’19, who is currently an infantry officer at Fort Carson, Colorado with the 4th Security Forces Assistance Brigade. He and his wife (pictured at right) recently had their second child and are enjoying the Army life! 

Class “Quotes” topic for the 2024 Spring issue:

Photos: USMA PAO; submitted

What’s a prank that you pulled in the barracks that the Brigade Tactical Department never found about? (It’s OK; WPAOG can’t make you walk the Area!) Send your answers in an email to editor@wpaog.org. When submitting an answer, please include an informative and interesting update regarding your life that the Long Gray Line would enjoy reading. This can either be professional (e.g., new job, promotion, retirement) or personal (e.g., new child/grandchild, marriage, hobby, etc.). You are welcome to attach pictures to your email to support your answer or your life-update.



Brig Gen Lewis S. Norman Jr. USAF, Retired 1944 BG John E. Sterling USA, Retired 1946 Mr. William P. Withers Jr. 1946 LTC Thomas F. Bullock USA, Retired 1949 Lt Col George B. Chamberlin Jr. USAF, Retired 1949 Mr. William A. Cummings 1949 Mr. Irving L. Hammer 1949 Cpt William E. Mundt USAFR, Retired 1949 BG Walter E. Adams USA, Retired 1950 Col Frank Borman USAF, Retired 1950 COL Joe F. Elliott USA, Retired 1950 COL Jared B. Schopper USA, Retired 1950 Brig Gen Everett L. True USAF, Retired 1950 Mr. William C. Waddell 1950 Lt Col Michael J. Walsh USAF, Retired 1950 COL Robert R. White USA, Retired 1950 Lt Col William H. Cuthbertson USAF, Retired 1951 Mr. Joseph D. Lafleur Jr. 1951 Mr. William G. Britton 1952 Mr. Thomas L. Kelsey 1952 Mr. Robert L. Palmer 1952 LTC William A. Walker USA, Retired 1952 COL Robert W. Blum USA, Retired 1953 Mr. Keith G. Kahl 1953 Mr. Glenn E. Schweitzer 1953 Col Leonard L. Griggs Jr. USAF, Retired 1954 Dr. Joseph J. Heed Jr. 1954 LTC Billy A. Arthur USA, Retired 1955 LTC Charles R. Gersitz USA, Retired 1955 Mr. Richard N. Gottron 1955 Mr. Henry A. Hollensbe 1955 COL David E. Wheeler USA, Retired 1955 Lt Col Larry D. Fitzgerald USAF, Retired 1956 Col Robert K. Stein Jr. USAF, Retired 1956 LTC Carl F. Burgdorf II USA, Retired 1957 COL Francis W. Hall Jr. USA, Retired 1957 Mr. Ronald D. Kennedy 1957 COL Warne D. Mead USA, Retired 1957 Mr. Richard K. Clements 1958 Mr. Robert E. D'Amore 1958 Mr. John F. Reilly 1958



COL Gerald P. Schurtz USA, Retired LTC William J. Shepard II USA, Retired Lt Col Stanley C. Toney USAF, Retired LTC Paul D. Vanture USA, Retired COL Donald R. Reinhard USA, Retired Mr. Richard M. Greene COL Patrick J. Holland USA, Retired COL Thomas E. Kopp USA, Retired LTC Leslie G. Langseth USA, Retired Dr. James K. McCollum COL Jennings H. Mease USA, Retired Mr. John C. Stanley MG Peter J. Boylan Jr. USA, Retired Mr. Robert G. Harrell LTC Donald E. Landry USA, Retired Mr. William D. Nesbeitt Jr. COL Thomas N. Sherburne USA, Retired LTC William H. Sievers USA, Retired COL Franklin T. Tilton USA, Retired COL William R. Williamson USA, Retired Mr. Charles O. Bennett Jr. Mr. Anthony R. DeAmico Mr. David V. Harkins Mr. Paul D.D. McNamara LTC Harry Meeth III USA, Retired LTC Philip E. Pons Jr. USA, Retired Mr. William J. Cooke Jr. Mr. Michael D. Simmons Mr. Tyron S. Tyler Mr. Robert H. Carlson LTC Leo D. Charron Jr. USA, Retired LTC Kenneth C. Kvam USA, Retired LTC Hugh P. Morton USA, Retired LTC Allyn J. Palmer USA, Retired Mr. Steven Perryman Mr. Garrett M. Davis COL David T. Jones USA, Retired Dr. Richard M. Osgood Jr. Mr. Wayne L. Poage Mr. Richard H. Gooding Mr. Francis M. Creighton Jr.

1958 1958 1958 1958 1959 1960 1960 1960 1960 1960 1960 1960 1961 1961 1961 1961 1961 1961 1961 1961 1962 1962 1962 1962 1962 1962 1963 1963 1963 1964 1964 1964 1964 1964 1964 1965 1965 1965 1966 1967 1968

COL Jonathan B. Dodson USA, Retired LTC Donald A. Johnson USA, Retired Mr. Daniel R. Powell Dr. Arthur C. Sands Mr. Robert W. Griffin COL Bryan H. Schempf USA, Retired Mr. Laurence H. Foster Jr. COL John M. Greenwalt USA, Retired Mr. John J. Hennessey Jr. Mr. Barry V. Pittman Mr. Marvin S. Self Mr. Terry P. LaCasse Honorable Steven J. Mura Mr. Patrick J. O'Neil Mr. Robert T. Payne Esq. Mr. Thomas S. Hrivnak Mr. Robert D. Mercer LTC E. Duston Saunders USA, Retired Mr. Sanford R. Rubinstein LTC William T. White USAR, Retired LTC Michael J. Bradley Jr. USA, Retired MAJ Ben F. Collins USA, Retired MAJ Vincent J. Scully Jr. USA, Retired Dr. John J. Martin LTC Phillip L. Pierson USA, Retired Mr. David M. Blakemore LTC Jeffery G. Wilkinson USA, Retired Mr. Eric V. Mayer Mr. John R. Poncy Mr. James F. Clare Jr. Mr. Robert V. Tuscano Mr. Michael W. Chenette Mr. David M. Martinez Mr. Scott P. Belveal Mr. Nicholas G. Simpson LTC Bryan C. Herzog USA Mr. Ernest Y. Lee CW3 Stephen R. Dwyer Jr. USA Mr. Jared A. Hassin 2LT Matthew L. Schirmer USA

1968 1968 1968 1968 1969 1969 1970 1970 1970 1970 1970 1971 1971 1971 1971 1972 1972 1972 1973 1973 1974 1975 1975 1976 1977 1979 1979 1983 1986 1987 1987 1988 1988 1992 2004 2006 2007 2009 2013 2022

Photos: [Names listed here as needed]

Be Thou at Peace

Deaths reported from September 16, 2023 – December 15, 2023

Past in Review

West Point’s Catholic Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity By Martin H. “Jay” Joyce ’74, Guest Author

Only four years after the Academy’s founding, President Thomas Jefferson appointed the first Catholics to the Corps of Cadets, French-speaking Americans from the newly acquired Louisiana Territory. Although the Archdiocese of New York was established shortly thereafter, in 1808, the number of practicing Catholics in the West Point area was so small that no member of clergy was assigned.

In August 1896, O’Keeffe wrote to Colonel Oswald H. Ernst (USMA 1864), 24th USMA Superintendent, requesting permission to build a Catholic chapel at West Point near the Ordnance Laboratory. O’Keeffe’s request was endorsed by Academy leadership, and, in early 1897, President McKinley’s administration licensed New York Archbishop Michael Corrigan to build. However, when the public became aware that a Catholic Upon occasion, a priest from Cold Spring, New York, about a mile chapel was to be built at West Point, McKinley received a flood of protests and the license was consequently revoked, with direction upstream across the Hudson River, would come to West Point for that the issue should be taken up in Congress. Church officials Catholic services. By 1875, Sacred Heart Church in nearby Highland Falls, New York was built, and the West Point Catholic quickly took up their cause in the House of Representatives. community became a mission of Sacred Heart. Catholics stationed Despite considerable discussion, the House passed a bill in June at West Point contributed roughly 40 percent of the original funds 1898 to build a chapel, and Senate approval quickly followed. President McKinley signed the bill into law on July 8, 1898. A new needed for the new church. license was issued in 1899, under which the Archdiocese of New By the late 19th century, Catholic services were held at the York was named owner and the party responsible for raising the “Soldiers’ Chapel,” located near the present site of Eisenhower funds to build and maintain the chapel. Hall. In 1890, Monsignor Cornelius G. O’Keeffe was assigned as pastor to Sacred Heart. An accomplished linguist and a personable O’Keeffe’s desired location for the new chapel was near the Cadet Area, similar to the location of the original Cadet Chapel (referred figure, O’Keeffe quickly gained acceptance from the military to now as “the Old Cadet Chapel”). However, Academy leadership of West Point. administration had other plans for this area and chose the Catholic chapel’s present location, overlooking the intersection of Washington and Stony Lonesome roads. The new chapel was designed in Norman architectural style by the New York-based firm of Heins and LaFarge, and it was completed within a year, using stone from a quarry behind the site. It was built to accommodate 275 people, more than adequate for the West Point Catholic community at the turn of the century.

Photo: Lee Ross '73

Most Holy Trinity Chapel (MHT) was dedicated on June 10, 1900. New York Auxiliary Bishop John Farley was the celebrant, and the ceremonies were attended by Secretary of War Elihu Root and Colonel Albert Mills (USMA 1879), the Superintendent at the time. Father George DeShon (USMA 1843), cadet roommate of Ulysses S. Grant, delivered the homily. DeShon resigned from the Army in 1851 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1855, the second USMA graduate to become a priest. MHT continued to operate as a mission of Sacred Heart Church under O’Keeffe until it became a standalone Archdiocese of New York parish in 1926. Father John Langton, a former Army chaplain during World War I and an assistant pastor at Sacred Heart Church, was appointed MHT’s first pastor. An aerial view of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, which was built overlooking the intersection of Washington and Stony Lonesome roads at West Point.

Funds to maintain the chapel were a continual problem. Beginning in 1936 and continuing through at least 1950, the




A significant milestone was realized in 2003: Chaplain (Major) Jerry Deponai ’74 became the first West Point graduate to serve as pastor of MHT. Chaplain (Major) Paul K. Hurley ’84 succeeded Deponai in 2006. Later, in 2015, then Colonel Hurley was promoted to major general and became the Army’s 18th Chief of Chaplains, only the second West Point graduate to hold this position since it was first established in 1920.

Guild for MHT held an annual military ball to raise funds for the chapel’s maintence. Scheduled following the Army-Notre Dame football game in Yankee Stadium (and later similar games), the ball was held in the grand ballroom of the Hotel Astor in Times Square. It was attended by nearly the entire Corps and was one of the social events of the season. MHT celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1950, and New York Archbishop Francis Cardinal Spellman presided at a Mass at MHT in honor of the jubilee. By the mid-1950s, MHT needed more room to accommodate the increasing size of the Corps. Using stone from the demolished Lusk Observatory to match the original exterior stone, MHT was expanded to its present capacity of 550 by 1960, complete with a new tower and steeple, a choir loft, baptistry, and excavation for a basement activity room. A primary feature of the redesign was stained glass windows showcasing “soldier saints,” distinguished figures who have some relationship to the military. These windows include St. Joan of Arc, St. Michael (patron saint of military aviators), St. Maurice (patron saint of the Infantry) and St. Barbara (patron saint of both the Field and Air Defense Artillery). The newly renovated chapel was rededicated in September 1959. Once again, Spellman presided over the ceremonies. In addition to being Archbishop of New York, he was the Catholic military vicar for the Armed Forces and had visited MHT on numerous occasions. In 1967, Spellman became the first clergy member to receive the Sylvanus Thayer Award, presented by the then Association of Graduates in recognition of his “unswerving… loyalty to his country…important contributions to the development of the moral strength of our fighting forces and of his continuing paternal concern for American servicemen and women of all faiths.” In 1977, the first military chaplain was assigned to West Point, signaling the beginning of a long transition from civilian clergy (Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish) to Army chaplains. In 1999, following considerable discussion, a revised license was issued, under which the Archdiocese of New York would retain ownership of MHT chapel but lease it to the federal government, which would assume responsibility for its upkeep. The Army Chaplain Corps assumed responsibility for staffing chaplains, supported by the Archdiocese for the Military Services. 64


Today, MHT continues as the Academy’s longest-serving house of worship in continual use and as the only dedicated Catholic chapel at any of the nation’s service academies. For over a century, it has served as a spiritual home for the Catholic members of the Long Gray Line, Academy faculty and staff, and their families. Today, the congregation includes about 30 percent of the Corps of Cadets, 150–250 families, and many other Catholic service members stationed at West Point. In the words of the Cadet Prayer, written in 1922 by USMA Chaplain Clayton Wheat, Most Holy Trinity—along with West Point’s other houses of worship—continues to help the Corps of Cadets, as well as all West Point graduates…to maintain the honor of the Corps untarnished and unsullied and to show forth in our lives the ideals of West Point in doing our duty to Thee and to our Country.  Jay Joyce graduated from West Point in 1974. He is the author of Postmarked West Point: A U.S. Postal History of West Point and its Graduates (2021), and Duty, Honor, Faith, & Country, an Illustrated History and Guide to Most Holy Trinity Chapel (2023). He will soon publish The West Point Post Office, 1815– 1981, Keeping It All in the Family—Nepotism, Paternalism, Political Patronage…and Dedication to the Corps!

Interior of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel.

Photos: Jonathan Melegrito; submitted.

A postcard, circa 1935-40, showing the Catholic chapel as originally built, before it was expanded in 1959.

MHT gained international recognition in 2016 when it returned the San Pedro Bell to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in the Philippines. The bell had been sent to MHT in 1915 as Spanish American War booty by former USMA Superintendent Major General Thomas Barry (USMA 1877). It had been stored out of sight and forgotten for many years until 1982, when it was mounted outside the chapel by Father James Tubridy, then pastor of MHT. In 2015, the Filipino Catholic Church asked for its return, which Lieutenant General Robert Caslen ’75, USMA Superintendent at the time, approved. The San Pedro Bell left MHT in April 2016 with a blessing and much fanfare. A few months later, the bell was rededicated in its rightful home in Bauang, La Union, Philippines, to even greater celebration.


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