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WPS of Annapolis Hosts Fall Social Event

WPS of Annapolis Hosts Fall Social EventThe West Point Society of Annapolis held their fall social event at O'Brien's Oyster Bar & Seafood Tavern in Annapolis on October 27 without the USMA Exchange Cadets for the first time in 23 years! In all, there were nine attendees, including the MD, DC and VA Parents Club President and a member from the West Point Society of Baltimore. They missed the long-held tradition of hosting the Exchange Cadets, but they felt it important to gather socially and enjoy the fellowship that good company, food and drink bring.

WPS of Upstate South Carolina Afternoon with GEN Pittard ’81

The West Point Society of Upstate South Carolina and GE Veterans Network co-hosted an Afternoon with Major General (R) Dana Pittard ’81 recently. General Pittard and his co-author, Master Sergeant (R) Wes Bryant, shared some stories about their time fighting ISIS and writing their book Hunting the Caliphate. It was a great opportunity for these two organizations to get together, build relationships, and hear some great stories!

WPS of Upstate South Carolina Benny Havens Hour

The West Point Society of Upstate South Carolina hosted its annual Benny Havens Hour in recognition of National Mule Day on October 26. Held virtually over Zoom, Old Grads, friends, and family shared some good stories about America's favorite mascot, the Army Mules.

Photo: Steve Townes '75, the sponsor of the event each year, at the 1974 Army-Navy Game with a mule and President Ford

WPS of the Tennessee Valley Watch Party

The West Point Society of the Tennessee Valley got together for an Army vs. Abilene Christian watch party on October 3 at “The Brass Tap” in Huntsville, AL. The Society Members and Friends toasted to an Army victory over Abilene Christian 55 - 23. About 35 society Army rooters met there as is the custom for every Army football TV broadcast.

WPS of the Phoenix Old Grad Marchback

WPS of the Phoenix Old Grad MarchbackThe West Point Society of Phoenix had some very motivated and brave grads take on the Arizona heat in support of the Marchback for the Class of 2024 “Like None Before”. The course was over 10 miles and organized by Pres Miller ’68.

Participants included: John Poisson ’84, Julie Poisson, Ron Morrell ’74, Mark Romaneski ’76, Doug McKenna ’68, Kent Sanderson ’83, Pres Miller ’68 and Jessie Ramirez ’10.

WPS of Upstate South Carolina Swamp Rabbit March Back

WPS of Upstate South Carolina Swamp Rabbit March BackThe West Point Society of Upstate South Carolina conducted its Swamp Rabbit March Back in Honor of the Class of 2024 on Saturday, August 8. The event consisted of an 11-mile out-and-back march along the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, SC. The event had about 30 participants to include society members and the families of several New Cadets. The society would like to thank Rich Kornacki '74 for his remarks as the 50-year affiliation class representative; Royd Lutz '84, Melody Lutz '84, and Caroline Astemborski for running the water-points; and Cliff Lutz '11 for leading the event as the society's officer-in-charge. Congratulations Class of 2024! None Like Before.

WPS of the Pikes Peak Region Junior Officer of the Year

WPS of the Pikes Peak Region Junior Officer of the YearThe West Point Society of the Pikes Peak Region held their Junior Officer of the Year Award Ceremony at Fort Carson earlier this month.

After a three month delay due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Society presented the 2019 Junior Officer of the Year awards to:

1LT Stephen Doherty, D CO, 2-1 CAV
2LT Martha Bradley, A CO, 4th Brigade Support Battalion
CW2 Cody Smith, D CO, 299th Brigade Engineer Battalion
WO1 Brittany Baker, HHC, 1st Stryker Brigade

The ceremony was small, with the 1st Stryker Brigade Command Group presiding, and each awardee was accompanied by their own chain of command who provided remarks on these young officers’ outstanding performance and attributes. The awards consisted of a West Point Society Coin and engraved box, plus a crisp $100 bill. COL(R) Stover James and COL(R) Mike Boatner represented the Society and were thoroughly inspired by the caliber of these great young combat experienced leaders. Congratulations!

WPS of The Pikes Peak Region & Denver at CC Send-Off

WPS of The Pikes Peak Region & Denver at CC Send-OffThe West Point Parents Club of Colorado hosted a send-off event in Castle Rock, CO for new cadet candidates of the Class of 2024. West Point Society of The Pikes Peak Region and Denver had a strong presence, even more importantly, four reps from USMA ’74 (50-year Affiliate: Bill Kenny, Steve Shambach, Rudy Veit, and Linda Rowe (West Point spouse and Mom!)).

It was a beautiful, breezy, sunny outdoor venue which allowed reasonable social distancing for the 130+ participants. Most importantly, 14 of 19 Cadet Candidates from Colorado with family and friends as well as close to a dozen cadets home due to Covid with their parents/families were able to participate.

This provided a perfect setting for current cadets to talk to the candidates while new WP parents received great coaching and information from the seasoned parents. “E'er may that line of gray Increase from day to day”

WPS of Hong Kong Founders Day

WPS of Hong Kong Founders DayThe West Point Society of Hong Kong had their somewhat smaller Founders Day on March 20th, which was after Hong Kong started quarantining new travelers into the country but before they started restricting group events. Everyone who attended had to confirm they had not traveled outside Hong Kong for the prior two weeks, and for that reason many had to drop out.

They had a total of 12 guests, including five Grads: Phil Krichilsky ’88 (Oldest Grad), Scott Surek ’88, Adam Balukonis ’95, Derek Ping ’02, and Tye Graham ’03 (Youngest Grad). Derek and Tye are FAOs at the US Consulate. There were two other Consulate workers, one a Naval Attaché and the other a former US Marshall.

It was held at the same venue as in prior years, the Crown Wine Cellar, which is located in a former British munitions bunker, which was also the last position in Hong Kong to surrender to the Japanese in World War II. Having the event in a bunker seemed more appropriate this year. For name tags, they made special personalized hand sanitizers which turned out to be a hit. There was no guest speaker-- the oldest grad and youngest grad speeches were more than enough. They came away agreeing the smaller event was more enjoyable, especially given the circumstances.

WPS of Northwest Florida Founders Day Dinner

WPS of Northwest Florida Founders Day DinnerThe Founders Day dinner for the West Point Society of Northwest Florida took place on March 14, 2020 at the Fort Walton Yacht Club. It was held when the COVID-19 virus caused gatherings to be restricted to no more than 50 people but the following week that number dropped to no more than 10. Two days prior to the dinner, they were informed that their guest speaker was unable to travel from New York to Florida so Society President Chuck Merkel stepped in to present attendees with a slide show of West Point graduates who were assigned to the 7th Cavalry at the time of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, along with relics of the period, to include a letter written by George Armstrong Custer in 1857 when he was a cadet at West Point.

Photo: WPAOG Representative Cathy Kilner the presents members of the West Point Society of Northwest Florida with their Distinguished Society Award certificate and streamer for 2019. Featured in the picture are Society Past Presidents COL Jerry White and Maj Gen Dick Secord while current President Chuck Merkel and WPAOG representative Cathy Kilner look on with approval.

The West Point Association of Graduates was represented at the dinner by Cathy Kilner and she presented members of the Society with their Distinguished Society Award certificate and streamer for 2019. It was a fine evening, and everyone is now looking forward to next year in the hope that it will be less dramatic than this year’s event.

WPS of Fort Bragg-Sand Hills First Monday Dinner

WPS of Ft. Bragg-Sand Hills First Monday DinnerRecently the West Point Society of Fort Bragg-Sand Hills held their first monthly dinner on a classic Infantry Weather-shrouded evening at Logan’s Road House in Fayetteville, NC. A fine turnout warmed the evening with precisely the banter you might expect from half a hundred Grads representing classes from 1957 through 2019. Society President Mike Karaman ’79 welcomed everyone, to include a Friend-of-West-Point visitor from Fayetteville’s own Methodist University, Mr. Drew Ziegler.

Mr. Ziegler was representing a famous Tarheel with whom many have served: former (two-term!) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, GEN Hugh Shelton. Mr. Z’s lively presentation described one of the General’s current passions: affording high school students the chance to learn leadership fundamentals at an intense, residential, one-week summer camp called, quite simply, The Shelton Leadership Camp. Several Society members’ kids are camp veterans … and reviews are uniformly sensational. (Info: www.methodist.edu/shelton) Readers will agree that if anyone, anywhere, should know how to inspire and teach leadership, it is GEN Hugh H. Shelton.

Speaking of leadership, Mike Karaman presented an efficient, off-the-cuff, two-minute program of instruction (again) on how to make reservations (and do a lot of other neat things) via SallyPort. He even offered to host an AI period after dinner. (That’s “Additional Instruction” for you Star Men and Women out there.) After a brief Q&A, Mike adjourned the meeting … and a good time was had by all, yet again.

WPS of Fort Bragg-Sandhills & WP Parents Club Host Parachute Team

The West Point Society of Fort Bragg-Sandhills and West Point Parents Club were honored to host the West Point Parachute Team for lunch at Logan’s Road House in Fayetteville, NC on March 10, 2020. The team spent Spring Leave in nearby Raeford, NC, burnishing skills. Society President Mike Karaman ’79, and Parents Club President, Patty Reim, mother of soon-to-be 2LT Taylor Reim’20, raised a goodly sum from both organizations to support the team not only with the luncheon, but with daily drop zone box lunches and refreshments. Society and Parents Club have enjoyed doing this for several years and a good time is always had by all!

WPS of Ft. Bragg-Sand Hills Army-Navy Watch Party

The West Point Society of Fort Bragg-Sand Hills hosted an Army-Navy watch party on December 14, 2019…which was hugely enjoyable all the way up to – and excluding – the final score. Still, West Pointers know how to party, especially when that party takes place at a bistro owned by fellow West Pointers. Hosts – Jon Gerold ’91 and Doug Kim ’94 had map sheet’s most popular rally point, TapHouse Sports Bar & Grill, in downtown Fayetteville, NC, standing tall and ready for the game … with a dozen TVs and a reinforced rifle squad of attentive, Rabble-rooting servers, bartenders, and chefs.

Society member Ed Cook ’93 even crafted a plan to waive cover charges for those arriving with new, unwrapped toys he would donate to Toys-for-Tots. The TapHouse is part of an ancient building. One reason they like it as an Army-Navy venue is, “well, they just don’t make ’em this durable anymore … so we feel free to cut loose with rafter-shaking, old-brick jolting, Airborne Army hooyah!” the likes of which Auld Down Town Fayetteville only experiences once a year. Of course this year’s fourth quarter was a tad muted compared to the last five, but they reckoned the squids could do with a bit of morale boosting … and a good time was, once again, had by all.

WPS of Connecticut Hosts Historic Virtual Founders Day

The West Point Society of Connecticut made history by hosting the first-ever virtual Founders Day on April 4. Instead of canceling or postponing their celebration, these innovative grads and guests got together online for an otherwise “traditional” Founders Day, complete with a toast, a video message from Superintendent LTG Darryl Williams ’83, remarks by USMA speaker COL Greg Boylan ’94, greetings from the oldest and youngest graduates present, and finishing up by singing the Alma Mater.

Club President Scott Anders ’77 even donned black tie attire for his role as emcee. This creative virtual event was the first of its kind since the suspension of public events and travel during March and April, a time when West Point grads worldwide usually gather to mark the 1802 establishment of the Academy at their local Founders Day celebrations. View story video.

WPS of Denver Founders Day Celebration

WPS of Denver Founders Day CelebrationThe West Point Society of celebrated their annual Founders Day. It was held at the historic Denver University Club on March 7, 2020. More than 170 graduates, spouses, cadet candidates and their parents attended. The keynote speaker COL Richard L. Zellmann ’91, J5 U.S. Space Force Command, addressed the assembly as did also, the youngest and oldest graduates in attendance.

WPS of Annapolis 34th Annual Founders Day

WPS of Annapolis 34th Annual Founders DayThe West Point Society of Annapolis (WPSOA) held its 34th annual Founders Day celebration on Saturday March 14, 2020. The event was held at Café Mezzanotte, Severna Park, MD, and was attended by 28 WPSOA members and guests, including our very own Bob Curran '72 and one local New Cadet Candidate, Elisabeth Ake, daughter of COL Adam Ake '97.

Due to concerns with the Coronavirus pandemic, the Distinguished Guest Speaker, Master of the Sword COL Nick Gist, was unable to join. Instead, WPSOA took charge. President, Steve Heinecke '77, introduced Bob Curran, WPAOG, who spoke of various USMA initiatives underway or planned.

Steve then discussed the status and purpose of the WPSOA, before Bill Taylor '70 presented slides sent by COL Gist. Steve then introduced the eldest (Bob Stroud '68) and youngest (Lamar Simmons '11) grads.

Lamar presented amusing stories of his prep school and cadet experiences. The evening concluded with Bob Stroud providing the benediction and the assemblage singing of our Alma Mater

Photo: Lamar Simmons

WPS of Great Britain Founder Day Dinner

WPS of Great Britain Founder Day DinnerThe West Point Society of Great Britain held their Founders Day Dinner on March 14. The dinner was held at the Cavalry and Guards Club in Piccadilly, London. The function went off without a hitch and a fabulous time was had by all.

WPS of the Aiken / Augusta Celebrates Founders Day

WPS of the Aiken / Augusta Celebrates Founders DayThe West Point Society of Aiken / Augusta celebrated Founders Day on Saturday March 14 at the Pinnacle Club in Augusta, Georgia. They had a great turnout and everyone had a wonderful time.

WPS of the Pikes Peak Region Founders Day

WPS of the Pikes Peak Region Founders DayThe West Point Society of the Pikes Peak Region had a great Founders Day Celebration on Friday March 6. In addition to 180 grads, guests, and friends of West Point, eight exceptional candidates for the Class of 2024 joined in.

As always, there was a good turnout of active duty grads from Fort Carson, and robust participation from their large retired community. The Oldest Grad Speaker was Colorado’s only Distinguished Graduate, Colonel David Hughes ’50, and the Youngest Grad Speaker was 2LT Jack Young ’19 from the 4th Engineer Brigade at Fort Carson.

COL Brad Wambeke, Director of Civil Engineering was the faculty speaker and did a wonderful job, energetically engaging the candidates, alumni and guests, as well as sharing the Supt’s priorities with the group.

WPS of New Jersey Donates to the Fisher House

WPS of New Jersey Donates to the Fisher HouseThe West Point Society of New Jersey’s President Tony Smith'78 and his wife Ellie presented a Society donation to the Fisher House as a result of their West Point Society Charity Scramble golf event in June.

Accepting the check was Brian Gawne, VP Operations, Fisher House. Looking on was Miss New Jersey 2019, Miss Jade Glab, and Pete Hegseth of Fox News.

The check was presented at the annual Gingerbread Ball on December 7, 2019 the at the Ocean Place Hilton in West Long Branch, NJ.

WPS of the Mid-South Army/Navy Watch Party

WPS of the Mid-South Army/Navy Watch PartyThirty-five enthusiastic West Point graduates and other Army supporters convened at the home of Jon Thompson '65 and his wife Susan to cheer Army to victory. In addition to the boisterous Army revelers, Jon Thompson's friend Mr. Carroll White, a 1973 Navy graduate, joined the party to serve as the "scape-goat" for an anticipated Army victory. By the end of the game, despite the good-natured ribbing, all the '73 grads – both Army grads (John Snyder, Rob Williamson, Rich Carter, Don Blane, as well as an honorary classmate Ron Scott '72) and the Navy grad – they sharing some great camaraderie.

Several attendees had ample other reasons for celebration. Don and Karen Blane decided to celebrate their 46th wedding anniversary there, while Steve and Cava Sittnick (parents of two grads currently on active duty) received hearty congratulations for their recent selection by the AOG as the Society's newest Friends of West Point. Additionally, following some "stringent" judging by the oldest and youngest grads present (Jim Turner '59 and Emeline Hood '11, respectively), Doel Baughman '96 beat the competition for the Grad with the Best Spirit Attire, unseating last year's winner Jon Thompson.

Everyone enjoyed themselves immensely, recounting old stories, making new acquaintances, and reinforcing old ones. Jon and Susan's over-the-top hospitality in their beautiful home helped ease the sting of Army's misfortune.