For the Class of 2012, this was the big one. The moment. They began their West Point experience some 41 months ago—wading through a sea of unknowns—and now probably the most significant of those unknowns was revealed during Branch Night.
At the branch notification ceremony on Dec. 1, the Class of 2012 discovered how they will serve as officers in the U.S. Army—whether it be Infantry, Quartermaster, Air Defense or in any of the 16 branches.
During the ceremony, Class of 2012 Cadet Charles Phelps, the Corps of Cadets’ first captain, extended a round of applause to the many branch representatives, tactical officers and noncommissioned officers and instructors who served as mentors during the arduous process of branch selection. Speaking to his class, Phelps reminded them of the past 41 months—from Reception Day, cadet basic training and now only months away from graduation—to get where they are.
“This evening, we share a collective occasion to celebrate,” he said. “Branch Night is one of the landmark events in our progression through the West Point experience that falls in cadence with the memories we created…the symbol sealed in the envelope represents the edge of a precipice we now stand upon.”
Phelps said upon receiving their branch, the firsties can now begin shaping the mental image of their contributions to their new teams. “Regardless of branch, we will cross paths again; potentially in hostile environments where our ability to act decisively and with cohesion will be vital,” he said. “It is critical that we embrace tonight’s results and depart from this theater to prepare for the demands of our respective branches with relentless optimism.”
After the speeches were made and the order to open envelopes was given, 94 percent of the Class of 2012 received one of their top three desired branches. Almost 76 percent of the class achieved their top choice, and it was reported at the ceremony that no cadet received their last choice. Phelps was among the 239 cadets to branch Infantry—the most sought-after of the 16 branches.
Class of 2012 Cadet Timothy Tieng erupted with joy after discovering he was among those cadets. “I’m feeling really great about this. It’s an amazing moment and everything was worth it,” Tieng said. Tieng said he drew from all his experiences at West Point in determining what branch he wanted.
“I looked at the branch I thought was great and one I would be really good at,” he said. “After the multiple summer training experiences, I thought Infantry would be great.” Later he donned an olive green infantry cap and joined his fellow future infantry officers in pinning the branch insignia to their uniform.