July 25, 2014 will live forever in the minds of those in the Class of 2017. This is the day on which they ended their existence as cadet privates and got promoted to cadet corporals. “Today marks a transition for you,” LTG Robert Caslen ’75, Superintendent, told the yearlings who were assembled by company on the Camp Buckner Parade Field for the Cadet Field Training (CFT) Award Ceremony and Flag Presentation. “Today you become a team leader in the Corps of Cadets and go from one being led to one who will lead.” The ceremony also marked the conclusion of Task Force Parten, the nearly three weeks of military training the now yearlings accomplished during CFT, which was named for 1LT Tyler Parten ’07, who was killed in 2009 during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. During the ceremony, 1LT Parten’s sister, Anna, addressed the Class of 2017 and challenged them to live up to the motto chosen for CFT this year: “Forging your destiny—living the legacy.” Referring to their academic year duty to help an assigned plebe adjust to military life, she said, “Each one of you is now in the remarkable position to transform the lives of young men and women into leaders.”
Six members from the Class of 1967, which is 2017’s 50-Year Affiliation Class, were also at the ceremony and presented CDT Kristi Carrigan ’17, Class President, with 2017’s Class Flag. Going forward, this flag will be used at all class events and remain on display in Herbert Alumni Center’s Great Hall. An integral part of the 50-Year Affiliation Program, the presentation of the Class Flag strengthens the bonds between the classes and reinforces the ideals of West Point and the values of the Army. One bond they now share is the CFT experience. “Coming back to Buckner brings back a lot of memories,” said Dr. Tom Parr ’67, the Class 50-Year Affiliation Chair. “One thing I never realized is how pretty the scenery is around here.” While undergoing their military training—fire support, marksmanship, urban operations, land navigation, reconnaissance, small unit leadership development and Army PT—it is unlikely that the Class of 2017 had much time for scenery, but memories were certainly made. “I’ll never forget waking up to rain one night at 0230 and seeing my buddy placing his poncho on my stuff,” said CDT Avery Littlejohn ’17, who was awarded the Superintendent’s Plaque as the best overall cadet in CFT based on recommendations from his chain of command. CDT Brevin Irvin ’17, who received CFT’s Sean Knott x-’95 Memorial Award for displaying loyalty and selflessness to his Ranger buddy, said, “It’s events like these that create lasting friendships.”
Years from now, should the members of the Class of 2017 want to relive their CFT experiences (or try to remember the scenery of Camp Buckner), all they will need to do is look upon the Class Flag given to them by the Class of 1967 and the events of July 2014 will come alive again in their minds.