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Ring Melt for Class of 2017

Categories: Ring Memorial Program, Grad News
Class Years:

The “Ping” of Gold

CDT Taylor Endres ’17, Secretary for the Class of 2017, arrived at the Pease & Curren refinery in Warwick, RI on the morning of February 22, 2016 with eight of her classmates confident that she knew what the 16th Annual West Point Class Ring Memorial Melt was all about. “I familiarized myself with the details beforehand and grasped the logistics of the event,” she said:

1) Fifty-four rings, the largest number to date, were being donated.

2) The rings ranged from the Classes of 1914 to 1984.

3) Ten of the rings came from the Class of 1967, 2017’s 50-Year Affiliation Class.

4) The gold from these rings, along with a “legacy” sample taken from the gold of the 356 rings donated in previous ring melts, will be added to the class rings they are going to receive this August during Ring Weekend.

Then, the ceremony started and Endres heard the words of the family members, classmates, and friends as they placed their loved one’s ring into the stone crucible for melting. “It was then that I understood the meaningful connection between members of the Long Gray Line and the significance of this event,” Endres said. “They want us to feel and experience the qualities that their loved one demonstrated throughout his life.” With each “ping” of an old ring into the crucible, cadets grasped a new ingredient that will be vivified in the rings they will don come August.

Ping. Jack Boyt ’67 placed the “strength” of COL Robert M. Ward ’48, 1 of 15 infantrymen in this year’s round of rings, into the crucible.

Ping. Theda Tankersley added her father’s, MG Will Hill Tankersley ’50, sense of “duty,” noting how he was recalled from graduation leave and sent directly into combat in Korea.

Ping. Laura Finlon offered her father’s, Mr. John F. Brown Jr. ’51, “pride in Army’s teams,” recalling how he named his Seattle residence, “the Black Knight ranch.”

Ping. Susan Keats Moore inserted CPT Robert Keats’s ’65 dedication to “service,” which was demonstrated when he volunteered for the extremely dangerous mission in Vietnam that claimed his life, even though he had taken command of his unit only 10 days prior.

Ping. Sally Winkel and MAJ Mark Haseman ’05 deposited BG Raymond Winkel Jr.’s ’67 “love of West Point” that came from 22 years of service leading the USMA’s Department of Physics and sponsoring numerous cadets (such as Haseman).

Ping. Greg Voigt ’82, father of CDT Cameron Voigt ’17 and one of five living donors, offered his ring saying that he hoped it would bring “happiness, peace, prosperity, and fulfillment” to the Class of 2017.

Ping. Ping. Ping…each time a new, unique element of a graduate placed into the crucible to be melted down and formed into a single gold bar.

Endres noted that she was most moved by the words of Terry Phelan, sister of 1LT Richard O. Bickford ’67, who was killed in Vietnam when he was struck by the blades of a scout helicopter forced to land in his company’s forward position due to severe weather conditions. “Richard was an amazing leader,” Phelan said while holding a 4×6 picture of her brother. “His strength will come through to you when you put your ring on.”

“Hearing the bios and listening to the family members made me realize how special West Point is to graduates and their families,” said CDT Dan Reape ’17, the Class of 2017 Ring and Crest Chair. “Knowing that I’ll have this legacy of graduates melted into my ring is a source of pride and will constantly remind me that there is a lot that I’ll need to live up to as a member of the Long Gray Line.”

“This ring melt ceremony was an important step in our realization that we are becoming full-fledged members of the Long Gray Line,” Endres said. “When we don our rings, we will now do so fully aware that we have become part of a community of graduates united together by common bonds, values, and experiences that transcend space and time.” View photos.

Class of 2017 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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