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Ring Melt for Class of 2018

Categories: Ring Memorial Program, Grad News
Class Years:

The Legacy Continues

In 1999, LTC (R) Ron Turner ’58 wrote an article for the May/June issue of ASSEMBLY magazine proposing the idea for a “Memorial Class Ring” program, for which graduates could bequeath their West Point class rings for the specific purpose of incorporating the gold into the class rings of future graduates. His plan became a reality in November 2000, when the first 29 donated rings were melted, and their metal placed into the rings for the West Point Centennial Class of 2002, with a small amount kept to go into the melts of future programs. Now in its 17th year, the West Point Association of Graduates Class Ring Memorial “Melt” has incorporated a total of 451 rings, with 41 donated this year for the rings for the Class of 2018.

“The Ring Melt ceremony blazes our connection to the Long Gray Line,” CDT Marcos Arroyo, USMA 2018 Class President, told those in attendance at the Pease & Curren Refinery in Warwick, RI at the conclusion of the 2017 ceremony. “The meaning of the rings reaches far beyond any material value—they represent our Duty to the U.S. Army and the American people; they represent the highest standard of Honor to which we hold ourselves and our peers; they represent the Country in which we live and would die protecting.”

Arroyo’s words were well received by the families who came to place their loved ones’ rings in the crucible. Many of them spoke afterward to tell the representatives from the Class of 2018 how much their husband, father, or grandfather embraced and lived the values of Duty, Honor, Country throughout his life.

“Our father would have loved this program,” said Barbara Gavin Fauntleroy and Chloe Gavin, daughters to LTG James M. Gavin ’29, who passed away in 1990. “His ring symbolized his love of West Point and the values it stands for.”

Before each ring was placed in the crucible, cadets from the Class of 2018 read aloud a short biography of its graduate owner. COL (R) Dale Hansen ’68, a member of the Class of 2018’s 50-Year Affiliation Class, said, “Hearing the stories of graduates, their meaningful lives of service, helps the cadets understand the meaning of the Long Gray Line, and how its members are connected in our experiences, our belief in Duty-Honor-Country, and our commitment to service.”

“The Ring Melt strengthened my conception of the Long Gray Line,” said CDT Sarah Emsley ’18, the Class Historian. “Through this event, I learned that we are being entrusted to continue their legacy.”

CDT Amy Johnston ’18, whose grandfather’s ring, that of Mr. Thomas H. Paprocki ’54, was donated this year, said, “It means a lot to me to have my grandfather’s gold in my ring, but it also means a lot to have all the graduates who have donated rings over time now standing behind me, and it really ties my class to the Long Gray Line, showing us that what we are learning at West Point is not just words.”

“I think the Ring Melt Program is a wonderful idea and one of the more meaningful traditions West Point has because it provides both a physical and symbolic link between the members of the Long Gray Line,” said BG Diana Holland ’90, Commandant of the U.S. Corps of Cadets. “Not only do the cadets learn about the importance of the ring, what it symbolizes, and the responsibilities and obligations that come with it, but the program gets them to start thinking about how they can give back too.”


Class of 2018 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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