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Ring Melt for Class of 2022

Categories: Ring Memorial Program, Grad News
Class Years:

Cadet Valentina Vincent ’22 never met her grandfather, Harvey Jokinen, a Class of 1972 West Point graduate whose ring was a part of this year’s annual Ring Melt. Her mother was only three years old when he was killed in a helicopter crash while serving in Germany. Anytime Vincent asks her grandmother about Jokinen, she immediately cries. She says that he was a saint, and his sisters believe that he was the most amazing man to ever be placed on the earth.

“He had grit and determination to fight through adversity without complaint, the kind of guy you hope is on your team,” Vincent said. “I wish I could have met my grandfather, but I feel his presence alongside me at West Point daily.”

Vincent and her Class of 2022 classmates placed Jokinen’s ring, along with 51 other donated West Point class rings, into a crucible to be melted at the Ring Memorial Ceremony, held on February 12 at West Point. They also placed legacy gold into the crucible. These shavings, taken from the gold ingot of each melt, contain gold from every Ring Melt since the inaugural event for the Class of 2002. This gold from the donated rings and the legacy gold will be incorporated into the class rings for members of the Class of 2022. This means Vincent’s ring will have the same gold that her grandfather once wore, ensuring that the Long Gray Line stays tangibly connected from class to class and generation to generation.

“I will be able to look down at my ring and see him in it,” Vincent said. “He will now be physically with me wherever I go.”

Although living ring donors, donor family members, and other graduates were unable to attend the ceremony in person this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Point Association of Graduates made sure that this tradition continued in a safe and meaningful way.

The event was live-streamed online from Crest Hall in Eisenhower Hall, with over 400 people attending virtually. Cadets placed rings into the crucible on behalf of families and living ring donors, and several donor families sent in videos that were shown during the ceremony.

“Mike Peffers was one of my closest friends since we were plebes together in Company B-1,” Colonel Dean Stodter ’82 (Retired) said about ring donor Colonel Michael J. Peffers ’82 in a recorded remark. “If Mike could send you a message from the ranks of the Ghostly Assemblage of the Long Gray Line, it would be this: ‘You will learn much at West Point, but what really gets embedded in our souls are the values in our motto and the strong, loyal bonds between classmates.’” According to Stodter, Peffers cherished the men and women of the Class of 1982 (“The Select Few”) and he would urge the members of the Class of 2022 (“For the Many Stand the Few”) to always treasure the lifelong friendships being formed now at West Point. “Wear [your rings] with pride, knowing that you grip hands with a loyal soldier who loved West Point and dedicated his life to Duty, Honor, Country,” said Stodter.

While cadets and attendees enjoyed a luncheon in the ballroom of Eisenhower Hall, Class Ring and Crest Chair Cadet Claire Jones ’22 and others transported the 52 donated class rings to Bartlett Hall, where they were melted into a single bar by a technician from Herff Jones, the company that will be making the Class of 2022’s rings. “To be able to hold the gold bar and be a part of the process, it’s really cool to see that physical representation of the connection we have to the old graduates now,” Jones said.

Before presenting the freshly made gold bar, which weighed in at just over three pounds, to a representative from the Herff Jones Ring Company, Class President Cadet Xavier Williams ’22 addressed his classmates and the families of the ring donors, saying: “Like many of you, this will be the first ring that I will wear, but in it dwells hundreds of smiles, thousands of stories, and infinite meaning—for this ring shares the gold of revolutionary leaders, firm teachers, respected warriors, beloved parents, and even joyous children. Today, in the spirit of willing devotion to Duty, Honor, and Country we are now eternally linked, no longer separated by space and time to thousands of individuals that have also made this vow. Your sacrifice of this ring donation is a precious gift to our class, and we do not take it for granted.”

In total, 669 West Point class rings have been donated to the Class Ring Memorial Program to date, including 18 from the Class of 1972, the Class of 2022’s 50-Year Affiliation Class. The oldest ring at this year’s Ring Melt came from Lieutenant Colonel John D. Miley, Class of 1916, and the youngest ring came from Mr. Lloyd M. “Trey” McClure ’90.

Class of 2022 Ring Memorial Donor Listing

1916 LTC John D. Miley USA, Retired
1939 LTC Levin L. Lee II USA, Retired
1940 Col Nathan L. Krisberg USAF, Retired
1940 Col Morrill E. Marston USAF, Retired
1946 Mr. Samuel E. H. France
1946 COL George E. Hall Jr. USA, Retired
1947 COL Norman R. Rosen USA, Retired
1948 Col Stewart Young USAF, Retired
1949 Mr. Kenneth A. Main
1950 Mr. Paul S. Ache Jr. 
1951 LTC John B. Lewis USA, Retired
1952 Mr. Frank A. Allen III
1953 COL Robert L. Crosby USA, Retired
1953 LTC William M. Jewell Jr. USA, Retired
1954 Mr. Robert J. Ellis
1954 Col Allen L. Jennings USAF, Retired
1955 Mr. Robert L. Wallis
1956 COL Elford M. Mayson USA, Retired
1959 Mr. John F. Carroll
1959 COL William A. Luther Jr. USA, Retired
1960 Mr. Henry L. Meloan
1962 Mr. Frederick C. Bothwell III
1962 LTC Richard E. Garvey Jr. USA, Retired
1962 COL John F. Meehan III USA, Retired
1962 LTC Marlin E. Schmidt USA, Retired
1963 Mr. Gary K. Klauminzer
1965 Mr. Omar E. Rood Jr.
1965 Mr. John T. Thomasson
1966 COL Terry G. Stull USA, Retired
1971 Mr. Joseph J. Waldhaus
1972 COL Randall D. Bookout USA, Retired
1972 Mr. Kenneth E. Brockman
1972 LTC John R. Crouse USA, Retired
1972 COL Rolland A. Dessert Jr. USA, Retired
1972 LTC Steven M. Dougan USA, Retired 
1972 Dr. William T. Fennema III
1972 Mr. Russell B. Hall
1972 COL Robert F. Holland USA, Retired
1972 Mr. Douglas M.  Hoon
1972 Mr. Joseph A. E. Ivey III
1972 CPT Harvey R. Jokinen
1972 Dr. Thomas B. Nelson
1972 MG Eric T. Olson USA, Retired
1972 MAJ Jay E. Rossi USA, Retired 
1972 COL Jeffrey L. Schrepple USA, Retired
1972 COL Steven J. Skoog USA, Retired
1972 LTC William C. Smith MD USA, Retired
1972 Anonymous Donor
1979 Mr. Bryant S. Messner
1982 Mr. Charles R. Beard
1982 COL Michael J. Peffers USA, Retired
1990 Mr. Lloyd M. McClure

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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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