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Class Notes

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Grad Week 2016

Speaking at the 2016 Alumni Luncheon, LTG Robert L. Caslen Jr. ’75, the 59th Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, aptly summarized the energy and excitement surrounding Grad Week: “This is an exciting time of year for West Point: the First Class is getting ready to graduate and take their oath of commissioning, graduates return to celebrate spring class reunions, and the West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG) recognizes a new group of distinguished graduates.” [VIEW PHOTOS]

As is tradition, Grad Week kicked off with an alumni procession across diagonal walk to the statue of Sylvanus Thayer, Class of 1808. The procession was led by LTG (R) Edward Rowny ’41, the oldest graduate present, who placed a wreath at the statue’s base to honor “the father of the U.S. Military Academy.” He was followed by the 2016 recipients of WPAOG’s Distinguished Graduate Award: Mr. Louis Gross ’54, BG (R) John C. “Doc” Bahnsen Jr. ’56, Mr. Joseph B. “Joe” Anderson Jr. ’65, Mr. William P. Foley II ’67, GEN (R) Richard A. “Dick” Cody ’72, and GEN (R) Keith B. Alexander ’74. (Read their bios here.)

After the wreath-laying ceremony, returning graduates, including those from the Classes of 1941, 1946, and 1961 who returned to their alma mater for their spring reunions, took their place on the Plain for the Alumni Review Parade. Before the Corps of Cadets passed in review, LTG (R) Larry R. Jordan ’68, WPAOG Chairman, presented medals to the 2016 Distinguished Graduates to recognize their support of West Point throughout their lifetime and their commitment to the values of Duty, Honor, Country.

“’Duty, Honor, Country’ rolls off the lips pretty quickly,” said GEN Cody, “but as the members of the Class of 2016 will soon learn, the longer they serve and reflect on what they learned as cadets, the meaning of these words come in about doing your duty very well, making sure you do it with honor, and remembering that you are doing it for the larger purpose of your country.”

GEN Alexander also reflected on these words in offering advice to the Class of 2016. “Putting them in the context of GEN MacArthur’s Thayer Award speech, these words provide graduates a path to follow during the tough times, and if they follow these values, the path will ultimately lead to some place extraordinary.”

Mr. Anderson reminds cadets to stay engaged with West Point after graduation. “Your involvement is important and invaluable,” he said. And BG Bahnsen hopes that cadets remember that they will belong to a special group upon graduation. “You’ll be ‘West Pointers,” he said. “Only a select few can claim this distinction.”

Far fewer are known as “Distinguished Graduates.” Since GEN (R) Edward C. Meyer ’51, former Chairman of WPAOG, devised the award in the early-1990s, only 121 graduates have been recognized as such. “Distinguished Graduates are like West Point’s version of a Hall of Fame,” LTG Caslen said. “They come from different backgrounds and travelled different paths, but they all share the ideal of selfless service in giving back to West Point, their communities, and the nation that makes them ‘distinguished.’”