Class Ring Memorial Program
Since 2001, the West Point Association of Graduates’ Class Ring Memorial Program (CRMP) has been symbolically echoing these passages from the “The Corps,” making the melting of West Point class rings synonymous with the poetic hymn’s “grip hands” sentiments.
During the annual Ring Melt, the CRMP takes graduates’ donated class rings, ceremoniously places each ring into a crucible, melts the rings to form a single gold bar, and gifts this gold bar to the newest members of the Long Gray Line to be used in the making of their class rings. Through this process, the figurative aspects of “grip hands” become literal, imbuing each new West Point class ring with all the strength, wisdom, and principles of the “Corps of an earlier day.” Their legacy lives thanks to the Class Ring Memorial Program.
Every year since 2001, the West Point Association of Graduates has accepted donations of rings from West Point graduates—both deceased and living—and melted those rings into an ingot of gold at an annual Ring Melt Ceremony. Most of the resulting gold ingot is added to the commercial gold that will constitute the next graduating class’s rings. A small portion of each year’s gold ingot, however, does not go into that year’s rings. Instead, that gold is preserved and added to the rings that are being melted for the following year’s Ring Melt. Once the new ingot is made, again a shaving is taken from that ingot to be used in the subsequent 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. Because of this Ring Melt process, each West Point ring since 2002 contains gold from class rings of previous generations of the Long Gray Line.
Donate Class Ring
We are now accepting ring donations for the West Point Class of 2025’s Ring Melt. The cut-off to donate a ring for their Ring Melt is October 1, 2023.
To read about the different Ring Melt ceremonies and each donor’s biography, please click the links below. To donate a ring to the Class Ring Memorial Program, contact Class Services at 845.446.1614, or send an email to RingMemorialProgram@wpaog.org. Please send in this donation form along with your ring donation.
Stones are not included in the melt. If you do not have the stones removed before mailing your ring, our local jeweler will remove the stone. We will return the stones to the donor or donor family either at the melt or following the melt. If you desire an appraisal on the ring for tax purposes, please do so before mailing in the ring. The attached donation form has additional information. Please send a completed donation form along with your ring donation.
You may also use this form if you wish to will your class ring to the Memorial Class Ring Program (questions about tax deductibility should be posed to a tax attorney; WPAOG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization).
A small portion of each year’s gold ingot, however, does not go into that year’s rings.
Instead, that gold is preserved and added to the rings that are being melted for the following year’s Ring
Melt. Once the new ingot is made, again a shaving is taken from that ingot to be used in the subsequent
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. Because of this Ring Melt process, each West Point ring since 2002 contains gold from class rings of previous generations of the Long Gray Line.
The Legacy Gold contains trace elements of gold from 740 class rings donated over the past 22 years and
spanning the Classes of 1896 to 2004. These rings were worn by graduates who served in the Army, the
Marine Corps, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard. The graduates served our nation in armed conflicts
around the globe—in the Philippines, the Mexican Expedition of 1916, both World Wars, Korea, the
Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Panama, the Gulf War, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
The oldest ring that is part of the Legacy Gold belonged to Colonel Percy Myers Kessler, Class of 1896, who
fought in the Philippines Insurrection and whose son and grandson also graduated from the Academy. One
of the newest rings was recently donated anonymously by a member of the Class of 2004 and is the first ring to be donated by a female graduate. The ring was donated in honor of the USMA graduates who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nine four-star generals donated their rings:
• GEN Charles P. Cabell, Class of 1925
• GEN Hamilton Hawkins Howze, Class of 1930
• GEN Henry Miley, Class of 1940
• GEN George S. Blanchard and GEN John J. Hennessey, both from the Class of 1944
• GEN Lew Allen, GEN Robert Shoemaker, and GEN William J. Evans from the Class of 1946
• GEN George D. Iverson from the Class of 1957.
Another notable addition to the Legacy Gold is the class ring of Lieutenant General James “Jumping Jim”
Gavin, Class of 1929, who was not only the youngest division commander in World War II but also the
only American general officer to make four combat parachute jumps. The Legacy Gold also contains gold
from the ring of William Arcuri, Class of 1970, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and gold from the
ring of MAJ Arthur G. Bonifas ’66, who was killed in 1976 in the demilitarized zone in Korea while cutting
down a tree.
Each West Point ring symbolizes one’s commitment to Duty, Honor, Country. The gold in each ring
embodies the Long Gray Line of leaders who are united across generations by their unwavering commitment to those enduring values.
“We, as graduates of West Point, should establish a Memorial Class Ring Program…– LTC Turner ’58
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.”
In 1999, LTC (Ret.) Ron Turner ’58 submitted an article to Assembly magazine that contained the following suggestion:
In November of 2000, Turner’s idea became a reality as 31 rings were melted at the Herff Jones company in Providence, RI, and the Class of 2002 became the first to receive the gold from this historic undertaking in their rings. By 2022, a total of 740 rings have been donated to the Class Ring Memorial Program. These donated rings are a tangible sign of the enduring bonds of the Long Gray Line. May the service and sacrifice of the ring donors remain physically and symbolically with each future West Point graduating class as they proudly wear their class rings. See complete listings of ring donors organized by donor class year or alphabetically or cadet class list.
Class Ring Memorial Program – Class Year Archive
Ring Melt FAQ’s
What is the Class Ring Memorial Program?
The Class Ring Memorial Program is a program in which West Point 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.
What rings are accepted for the Class Ring Memorial Program?
Only West Point graduate rings are accepted.
Are miniature rings accepted?
The only miniature rings that are accepted are those that were worn as the class ring by a West Point graduate. ‘Sweetheart rings’ or engagement rings are not accepted.
I want to donate my loved one’s West Point class ring. Where should I send it?
Thank you for choosing to honor your loved one in this special way! Please fill out this donation form and mail it and the ring to:
West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG)
Attn: Class Services
698 Mills Road
West Point, NY 10996
Do I need to get the stone removed prior to donating my loved one’s West Point class ring?
Stones are not included in the melt. If you are able, please have your jeweler remove the stone prior to mailing in the ring. If you are unable to have it removed, we will have our local jeweler remove the stone. We will return the stone to you at, or following, the Ring Melt.
Should I get the ring appraised before mailing in my loved one’s ring?
WPAOG will mail you a Gift in Kind receipt upon receipt of the ring donation. If you plan to include the donation on your taxes, it is suggested that you have an appraisal done before donating the ring as our receipt is given on the value of the gold. Please consult your individual tax preparer for any additional information.
When and where does the Ring Melt take place?
The Ring Melt typically occurs on a Friday morning in late January. It is held at West Point.
Are donors invited to attend the Ring Melt?
Yes, you will receive a ‘Save the Date’ email months prior to the event. The thank you letter that we mail out after we receive the ring donation also will include information about the Ring Melt date.
How long is the Ring Melt Ceremony?
The ceremony usually lasts 1-2 hours. There is typically a Ring Donor Appreciation breakfast prior to the ceremony. The ceremony concludes during a luncheon that immediately follows the Ring Melt. Ring Donors and family members are also invited to take an Insider Tour of West Point following the ceremony and luncheon. In other words, we have a wonderful morning and afternoon planned for our ring donors and family members!
What is the cutoff date to be included in the next Ring Melt?
WPAOG must receive the ring donation prior to October 1st in order to be included in the next Ring Melt.
My granddaughter is a cadet at West Point. I would like to donate her grandfather’s ring for the Ring Melt for his class. When should I mail you the ring?
Cadets receive their rings at the start of their senior year at West Point. In order for someone’s ring to be melted and included in the make up of those rings, the ring donation needs to be received prior to October 1st of the cadet’s Cow (or Junior) Year.
After I mail in the ring, do I need to do anything else prior to attending the Ring Melt?
Yes, for all deceased ring donors, we ask that a Memorial Article be written and submitted by October 1st of the year prior to the Ring Melt. Click here for more information about Memorial Articles. We also ask all living ring donors to submit a one-page biography.
I would like to state in my will that I want my ring to be donated to the Class Ring Memorial Program.
Thank you for your thoughtful preparation! You may want to use this form for this purpose.
Who can I reach out to if I have additional questions?
Please call us at Class Services at 845.446.1614 or email us at ClassRingMemorialProgram@wpaog.org.
Gold: (Special Events: Individual Events) Ring Melt – Tangible Connection Between Cadets and West Point Graduates
Silver: (General Information) West Point Cadets Receive Their Class Rings Video
Silver: Circle of Excellence for the Promotional Video. View the Video that aided the Judges in deciding to choose WPAOG for this award.
Honorable Mention: Telling the Story of the West Point Ring Melt