At precisely 1840 last evening the First Captain, Jason Crabtree ’08, strode to the podium under the poop deck in Washington Hall and called the Corps to attention. He then announced the arrival of the Superintendent’s official party. Led by the LTG Buster Hagenbeck ‘71 and accompanied by LTG Ted Stroup ’62 and COL Bob McClure ’76, Chairman and President of the WPAOG, Captain Randy Ashby ’01 and his wife, walked into the Cadet Mess. The 2007 Nininger Award recipient was greeted by the cadets’ thunderous applause and cheering.
The Commandant of Cadets, Brigadier General Robert Caslen, Jr. hosted the presentation of the second Nininger Award for Valor at Arms. In his welcoming remarks, he thanked Mr. Doug Kenna ’45 and his wife Jean. They brought the idea for the Nininger Award to West Point and have generously endowed this third major WPAOG award (it joins the Thayer and Distinguished Graduate Awards). General Caslen spoke directly to the cadets, outlining the challenges the awardee and his Soldiers faced in Iraq and encouraging the Corps to listen closely to the remarks of Captain Ashby.
General Ted Stroup, Chairman of the WPAOG, enthusiastically spoke to the Corps, as well. Noting that each generation in the Long Gray Line has had and will continue to have its wars to fight—and that the Nininger Award was, in part, a symbolic linkage from past generations into their generation of the next decades of defending freedom.
Captain Ashby ’01 then received the Nininger medallion from the Superintendent and the Chairman, posed for photographs, and took his place at the podium. He delivered a superb acceptance speech, and the Corps seemed to hang on each word as CPT Ashby described the shadows of previous graduates that occupied the recesses of Washington Hall. He then described some of his combat engineer platoon’s challenges during the attack to Baghdad in the spring of 2003. CPT Ashby went on to emphasize his Soldiers’ extraordinary efforts over the three weeks of continuous combat operations. In closing, the awardee focused on the importance of discipline and teamwork in combat, and he echoed the Commandant’s exhortation to the members of the Corps that they would be well prepared for the battles in which they would lead in the future.
CPT Ashby is currently in company command with the 4th Engineer Battalion in Fort Carson. He will be joining the DMI faculty in 2008.