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WPS of Northwest Florida Sponsors a Field of Valor

WPS of Northwest Florida Sponsors a Field of ValorEvery September, the Exchange Club of Niceville and the Fisher House of the Emerald Coast sponsor a Field of Valor where flags are put up to honor all servicemen and women from Florida who were killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. This year the West Point Society of Northwest Florida sponsored two of the flags and they were dedicated to the memory of CPT Andrew M. Pedersen-Keel ’06 and 1LT Kevin S. Smith, ’02. CPT Pedersen-Keel was killed in Afghanistan on March 11, 2013 while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and 1LT Smith was killed in Baghdad, Iraq on December 8, 2005. It was an honor to remember their sacrifice in support of our country.

Just prior to the Christmas holiday, on December 19, the community held its first-ever “Wreaths Across America” ceremony at the Beal Memorial Cemetery in Fort Walton Beach. There are over 1,700 veterans buried there and each grave was decorated with a wreath. In spite of the pandemic, it was a well-attended event and Society President Chuck Merkel was proud to represent the West Point Society of Northwest Florida, which donated funds toward the purchase of wreaths. Designated attendees unveiled wreaths for each of the military services. Since there was no Merchant Marine representatives present, Chuck Merkel was asked to do the honors for that service and he gladly accepted.

WPS of Annapolis Celebrates Peter Polk as Friend of West Point

WPS of Annapolis Celebrates Peter Polk as Friend of West PointThe West Point Society of Annapolis (WPSOA) sponsored a small dinner for Peter Polk and his wife, Pam, to honor Peter for his recent selection by the WPAOG as a Friend of West Point on February 16, 2021. Peter, a retired LTC who taught computer science, systems engineering and mathematics classes at West Point from 1987-1991, lives in Annapolis, MD, and is an active supporter of WPSOA and West Point.

Whether engaging with USMA Exchange Cadets and WPSOA members during dinners, socials, and Founders Day celebrations, Peter is always eager to learn of recent changes made and planned for West Point. Peter, who believes in the values and ideals of West Point, is also willing to share his positive experiences as a professor, faculty member and officer with a troop unit in the field with the cadets and WPSOA members.

During the dinner, Bob Opatovsky ’70 (WPSOA Secretary) and Bill Taylor ’70 (WPSOA Treasurer) presented Peter with his WPAOG Friend of West Point Certificate, as well as his Friend of the WPSOA Certificate.

Photo: Peter receiving his FOWP Certificate from Bill Taylor (left) and Bob Opatovsky (right)

WPS of Naples and WPPC of Southwest Florida Gives Back

The West Point Society of Naples and the West Point Parents Club of Southwest Florida enjoyed giving back to a local family in need of assistance this Christmas holiday.

Joined by family, friends, business partners and co-workers, they created a little Christmas magic by buying Christmas gifts, groceries & household supplies for a local southwest Florida family.

Their goal was to embrace the spirit of giving this holiday and their hope for the family was that they would be able to feel the genuine love and support that was intended in each gift.

This local area family was left speechless when they also received over $2,600 in cash and gift cards to help with future expenses. The group received Christmas morning pictures from their “adopted family” and there were many smiles and much gratitude.

WPS of Annapolis Holds a Small BEAT NAVY Dinner

WPS of Annapolis Holds a Small BEAT NAVY DinnerThe West Point Society of Annapolis (WPSOA) held a modest BEAT NAVY dinner in lieu of its 32nd annual winter social on December 6, 2020. Five attendees, including WPSOA President Steve Heinecke ’77 and his wife, Robin, Treasurer Bill Taylor ’70, Secretary Bob Opatovsky ’70 and Membership Chairman John Holbert ’77, gathered in the Benny Havens Room at O'Brien's Oyster Bar & Restaurant, Annapolis, MD, to enjoy the fellowship that good company, food, and drink bring. Of course, before departing the dining room, the attendees performed a modest “Rocket” cheer!

Prior to COVID 19 restrictions, the WPSOA annual winter social event was an opportunity to say farewell to the Exchange Cadets who were assigned to the Naval Academy for the Fall semester, have them sign their BEAT NAVY Banner – a 23-year tradition – and have a holiday social event for our membership. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, there were neither Exchange Cadets nor a winter social. Perhaps next year.

WPS of Tennessee Valley Sponsors a Christmas Tree

WPS of Tennessee Valley Sponsors a Christmas TreeThe Society of Tennessee Valley is again this year sponsoring a Christmas Tree in Huntsville’s Tinsel Trail located in downtown Huntsville’s Big Spring Park. Their tree has been decorated by Society members. Two members, Bill and Rusty Burns, volunteered again this year to lead participation in this event as they did last year. Tinsel Trail is a popular Holiday attraction in Huntsville and is a free event organized by Downtown Huntsville, Inc. It features more than 300 trees decorated by local businesses, organizations, and families. This event kicked off the day after Thanksgiving and will continue until January 3, 2021.