One of the highlights of Plebe-Parent Weekend, the Class of 2017 unveiled its Crest on Saturday night at a banquet in the Mess Hall. Cadet Michelle Golonka ’17, the Class’ Ring & Crest Committee Chairman, told guests in attendance that 2017’s Crest incorporated numerous ideas from her class members. Like all USMA Class Crests since 1903, the one for the Class of 2017 features an eagle; however, 2017’s eagle is positioned in a way so that, while it protects the world it encompasses in its wings, it doesn’t appear overbearing (no talons are showing). Their eagle also has seven wing tips, which Golonka said is meant to represent the seven continents of the world. Concerning the U.S. flag, a staple of Class Crests of late, the Class of 2017’s Crest displays six stars and seven stripes, signifying the 50-year affiliation with the Class of 1967. Golonka said, “This was done so that we are reminded of those who came before us and that we are here not only to be the standard, but to exceed it as a class.” Colonel (Retired) John James ’67 and Dr. Thomas Parr ’67 were on hand at the ceremony to represent the 50-Year Affiliation Class. The Crest also features a globe and, on it, a star for West Point. Golonka told the audience, “This star represents where we are and the importance of West Point because it is not like any other place on Earth.” Lastly, the Crest features a gold-colored 17 in Roman Numerals, representing the second lieutenant bar that the cadets hope to wear one day, and it displays a banner with the Class Motto.
After Cadet Golonka’s remarks, Lieutenant General Robert Caslen ’75, USMA’s 59th Superintendent, spoke to the plebes and introduced the banquet’s guest speaker, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Dan Jollota, a former UMSA Aviation Detachment Commander, who has served in the Army for nearly four decades, including a 1993 assignment as a Black Hawk pilot in Somalia, made famous by the 2001 movie Black Hawk Down. Jollota spoke to the plebes about the value of teamwork, citing his experience in the Battle of Mogadishu. “The mission takes on a whole new meaning when it involves the life of your teammates,” Jollota said. “Your friends and teammates are what will make your difficult experiences in the Army bearable.” Jollota also congratulated the Class of 2017, of which his daughter is a part, for accomplishing so much together in only a few short months. “You are already comprehending the significance of service to your country,” he said, “and grasping the meaning of your Class Motto: ‘So others may dream.’”