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Ring Melt for Class of 2015

Categories: Ring Memorial Program, Grad News
Class Years:

The Golden Connection

The bond between members of the Long Gray Line was once again made manifest at this year’s West Point Class Ring Memorial, the 14th such ceremony since the annual event began in 2001. Twenty-nine rings were donated and melted this year, bringing the total number of rings in the program to 322. The gold from these rings, along with gold shavings from past melts, was melted and will be used to make rings for the Class of 2015. After placing their loved one’s ring in the crucible for melting, donors told stories involving their loved one that moved all in attendance, especially the cadets.

Mrs. Marsha Fancher, the daughter of Colonel Robert Penn Thompson ’33, said that her father’s most prized possession was his West Point class ring. “His first thought in the morning was, ‘Where’s my ring?” Fancher said. “He may not have remembered me on occasion, but he always remembered his ring.”

Mrs. Lisa Koches, daughter of the Honorable Albert Cretella Jr. ’47, said that her father made sure that West Point was an integral part of her family (her brothers, Mr. Peter Cretella and Mr. Albert Cretella III, were also on hand to place their father’s ring in the crucible). “My dad loved West Point and would truly have supported this program,” Koches said. “We are proud to pay it forward and have dad’s legacy continue at West Point.”

Leslie Alger, the widow of Colonel John I. Alger ’65, told the cadets present from the Class of 2015 that her husband wore his ring in combat while fighting in Vietnam and that he absolutely would have wanted donated. “He so deeply loved West Point and identified with the Long Gray Line,” Alger said. “He would be so honored that his ring is now part of your inheritance.”

A few weeks before the Ring Melt, Jose Sanchez ’65, a member of the Class of 2015’s 50-Year Affiliation Class, took his class ring to a jeweler and had a notch of gold removed. Placing that notch in the crucible, he told the cadets, “For the rest of my days, I’ll be honored to know that my gold is with your gold.”

Acknowledging the gift that his class received, Cadet William Goodwin, President of the Class of 2015, told the donors, “A West Point class ring is more than just jewelry; it is about the connection that West Point graduates have to each other.” He also quoted from an article given to him by Mr. Sanchez in which General Daniel Christman ’65 said that West Point rings bind their wearer to a standard and by the grip of a far-off hold. “We promise to honor the lives and stories behind each of these rings,” Goodwin said, “and to never go our separate ways thanks to the bond represented in our rings.”

Reflecting on the ceremony and the Class of 2015, Jim Tomasick ’65 said, “It was one outstanding ceremony for one outstanding class.” His classmate Bob Frank ’65 agreed saying, “It was a deeply felt ceremony that will live with us for a long while to come.”

Representing the cadets, Cort Thompson, Information Systems Officer for the Class of 2015, noted: “The Ring Melt ceremony was more emotional than we thought it would be, but in a great way. We now truly feel a connection with the Class of 1965, other members of the Long Gray Line, and the donors themselves. We now want to make sure we honor everything that was put into those rings and carry on the tradition that connects every West Point graduate.”

Class of 2015 Ring Memorial Donor Listing

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Ring Memorial Program

In 1999, LTC(R) Ron Turner ’58 submitted an article with the suggestion that “We, as graduates of West Point, should establish a Memorial Class Ring Program… whereby graduates may bequeath (or graduates’ descendants may donate) West Point class rings for the specific purpose of incorporating the gold into the class rings of future graduates.” Turner’s idea became a reality as 31 rings were melted at the Herff Jones company, and the Class of 2002 became the first to receive the gold from this historic undertaking in their rings. A small portion of each year’s gold ingot is preserved and added to the rings that are being melted for the following year’s Ring Melt. The gold shavings are known as the Legacy Gold because it contains gold from every ring that has been donated over the years.

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