The Spirit of the Rings
Hobey Hewett, the grandson of MG Hobart Hewett, Class of 1919, and the first presenter at the 20th Annual West Point Class Ring Memorial Melt, captured the significance and sublimity of the ceremony perfectly when he told the amazing story of how his grandfather’s ring became part of the Ring Melt for the Class of 2021. General Hewett died in 1967, and his class ring passed on to his daughter, Hobey Hewett’s mother. The ring was missing for decades, but, about two weeks ago, Hewett and his brother were cleaning out his mother’s house and found the ring. He then learned about WPAOG’s Ring Memorial Program and worked feverishly with WPAOG’s Class Services to get the ring into this year’s program on short notice. “It was the spirit of the ring that got it here,” Hewett said, offering an explanation as to why the ring was serendipitously found. “It wanted to be here, it wanted to come home, and it wants to be worn on the fingers of the cadets in the Class of 2021.” The Class of 1919, as it turns out, entered as the Class of 1921, but they were graduated early due to the need for officers during World War I. Despite this, his class maintained their 1921 crest; so, General Hewett’s ring could be considered a centennial gift to the Class of 2021. The power and magnitude of this story caught CDT Katarina Christianson, President of the Class of 2021, a bit off guard, and she had to wipe away a tear from her eye before announcing the name of the next ring presenter. View photos from the event.
West Point Class of 2021 Ring Memorial EventForty* more rings, each with its own story and each with its own spirit, were placed in the crucible to be melted and used in the making of the Class of 2021’s rings. And several more times throughout the ceremony cadets and guests got a bit choked up listening to what the rings meant to their former wearers.
“He loved the Academy and never missed a reunion in his 99 years,” Daniel Ferris ’71 said about his father, COL Edwin Ferris ’35.
“The last thing he did before he passed was give his ring to his grandson,” Jon Greene said of his father Edwin Greene ’47, whose grandson is Drennan Green of the Class of 2021.
“It is likely that this ring bears signs of physical sacrifice in its gold,” said Chaplain Matt Pawlikowski ’86, regarding the ring of living donor LTC Robert W. Faulkender ’57, a Purple Heart recipient.
“He was West Point to the core,” said Rose Bloomfield about her husband, Kenneth Bloomfield Jr. ’64, “and his is a ring that has history, a ring that has love, and a ring that has hope for all who come after him.”
Finally, upon presenting the ring of MAJ Christopher Thomas ’01, the youngest grad to have a ring in the Ring Memorial Program, Melissa Thomas ’04 told the audience how Chris, a prior prepster who graduated in December 2001, was quite often the oldest cadet around. “He was nicknamed ‘old man,’ and he would get a kick out of being the youngest grad with a ring in today’s event,” Thomas said. She then continued, “The last time Chris was at West Point was in 2011 for his 10-year class reunion; so, every 10 years from now, a little piece of him will be coming back when the Class of 2021 has its 10-year reunions.”
Ring and Crest Chair CDT Adam McElligott Holding Crucible with 41 Rings“Listening to the stories and seeing people tear or choke up gave me chills,” said CDT Adam McElligott, the Class Ring & Crest Chair for the Class of 2021. He also got chills walking the crucible containing the 41* donated rings to Bartlett Hall, where a special station had been set up to perform the melting. “I couldn’t believe how much history I was holding at one time,” McElligott said. “For us to take these items and melt the grads’ experiences all down so that the result could later be distributed evenly to my entire class in the form of their new class rings…that’s just awesome.”
Adding to the splendor and grandeur of the 20th Annual Ring Melt was the venue in which it was held. For the second time in as many years, the event was held at West Point, after being held at a foundry in Warwick, RI its first 18 years. Specifically, it was held in the Haig Room, on the sixth floor of the Jefferson Library. The panoramic views of Trophy Point, the Hudson River, and the Wind Gate formed by Storm King Mountain and Breakneck Ridge provided by this room served as the perfect backdrop for an event designed to bind generations of the Long Gray Line to the permanence of West Point and its eternal values: Duty, Honor, Country.
Right before handing over the gold bar to a representative from the Balfour ring company to be used in the making of the Class of 2021’s class rings, CDT Christianson addressed the families of ring donors gathered in the ballroom of the West Point Club for the Ring Melt luncheon: “This ceremony symbolizes the unity of the past and the present…Today, the donation of your rings endows our rings with the spirit of high ideals, sacrifice, honor, and duty to the nation…The expectation is now set—for us to do better, to be braver, to always do the right thing, and to serve with honor, as you and your families have done before us. We will rise to the expectation that has been set for us today.”
In total, 617* West Point class rings have been donated to the Class Ring Memorial Program to date, including seven from the Class of 1971, the Class of 2021’s 50-Year Affiliation Class (five donated this year, one in 2010, and one in 2008). Each year, a small portion of the gold ingot is preserved so that the gold can be added to the crucible in the following year’s Ring Melt. Known as the Legacy Gold, this process ensures that gold from every Ring Melt since the inaugural event for the Class of 2002 will be part of future class rings. Thanks to this process, the class rings for the Class of 2021 will have gold worn by graduates who served our nation in numerous armed conflicts around the globe: the Philippine Insurrection, the Mexican Expedition of 1916, both world wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Bosnia, and Iraq.
Class of 2021 Ring Memorial Donor Listing
1919 MG Hobart Hewett USA, Retired
1935 COL Edwin H. Ferris USA, Retired
1936 MG William C. Haneke USA Retired
1940 COL Francis R. Sullivan USA, Retired
1941 COL Joseph L. Knowlton USA, Retired
1942 Col John M. Anderson USAF, Retired
1943Jan Col Francis X. Kane USAF, Retired
1945 LTC Alfred H. Jones USA Retired
1945 COL John T. Rhett Jr. USA, Retired
1946 Mr. Lloyd S. Adams Jr.
1947 COL Wiliam D. Grant USA, Retired
1947 Mr. Edwin B. Greene
1948 LTC Floyd A. Johnston
1948 LTC Jack R. Miller USA, Retired
1948 Mr. Charles D. Nash
1950 Lt. Col. Robert M. Hoover USAF, Retired
1952 Mr. Daniel P. McMahon
1952 Col Emmett A. Niblack Jr. USAF, Retired
1954 Mr. Paul Lansky
1956 COL Richard E. Mackin USA, Retired
1957 COL Stanley D. Cass USA, Retried
1957 LTC Robert W. Faulkender USA, Retired
1957 Col Gerald L. Jagrowski USAF, Retired
1958 LTC Robert H. Miller USA, Retired
1958 Mr. William I. Murphy
1959 Doctor Donald T. Simpson
1960 LTC Donald H. Barrell USA, Retired
1960 Mr. James R. Kane
1962 Mr. James R. Heldman
1963 LTC John E. Parker USA, Retired
1964 Mr. Kenneth E. Bloomfield Jr.
1964 Mr. Henry L. Strickland
1965 COL Zigmund J. Roebuck USA, Retired
1969 Mr. Thomas H. McCord
1971 LTC Joseph A. Adelman USA, Retired
1971 COL Richard M. Bridges USA, Retired
1971 Mr. James M. Kesler
1971 COL Randall G. Oliver USA, Retired
1971 LTC Alan J. Rock USA, Retired
1975 Mr. Robert A. Haviland
1985 LTC David E. Bassett USA, Retired*
2001 MAJ Christopher D. Thomas USA
*This ring was donated after the Ring Melt ceremony for the Class of 2021 and therefore is only part of the class rings for the Class of 2021.