West Point Cadet Joseph Simon, and his fellow classmates of 2011, received a tremendous gift this year; 16.44 ounces of donated gold. Worth a little more than $10,000, this gold is special. It’s seen
This gold is familiar with the terms lieutenant colonel, brigadier general, major general and grandfather. More than just a means of monetary value, this gold has a history and, once donated, a purpose: being blended into the gold of the class rings created for
On March 7th, 2010 more than 20 West Point alumni, family and friends gathered at Pease and Curren refinery in
“These graduates feel an extremely strong connection to West Point and they desire to maintain that connection by making their rings a tangible part of the lives of the graduates who will take their place in the Long Gray Line at graduation,” states Joel Jebb, director of Class Support for the West Point Association of Graduates and a West Point graduate. “Like the crucible used to melt the donated rings, West Point itself is like a crucible with the intense experiences that cadets have while at
The wife of one donor attests to the fact that West Point and the Army were such a huge part of their lives that she was not surprised when the date of her husband’s death coincided with the anniversary of the founding of the
Likewise, Colonel Terry Kirkpatrick, son of Colonel Elmer Kirkpatrick (Class of 1929), donated his father’s ring to the Class of 2011 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his own West Point Class of 1961, proving the love for this academy spans generations.
For the graduates, the forging of melted gold brings significance, inclusion and reassurance.
“Having the gold from previous classes included in our class rings is significant to the Class of 2011 because it brings the whole spectrum around to us,” comments Cadet Simon. “These men served in WWI, WWII, Vietnam and Korea and, when we’re deployed next year to Iraq or Afghanistan, there will be real comfort in knowing we’re carrying a piece of history that has seen battle before.”
Colonel Peter Foss, Class of 1951 and ring donor to the Class of 2011, certainly saw battle. After serving in the Korean War as a company commander with the 5th Regimental Combat Team he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. He went on to
Likewise Colonel Richard Bauchspies, a 1958 alumni ring donor, served two tours in
“One month before my grandfather passed away he gave me his ring because this is what he wanted to do with it,” recalls Cadet Lawrence. “It is very special knowing there is alumni gold in my ring, but even more special because it’s my grandfather’s gold.”
The oldest donor family was that of Colonel Elsworth Kirkpatrick, Jr., Class of 1929. Col. Kirkpatrick served in WWI in the Corps of Engineers as Chief of Staff of the Northwest Service Command in
Once melted, the gold ingot was shipped to Balfour’s manufacturing facility in
“Pease & Curren feels connected to the emotion and tradition of the West Point Ring Melt. We are a 94 year old company steeped in tradition, so we understand just how important heritage and legacy are, and we happily offer our services, facility and our time, free of charge.”
The West Point Ring Melt, now in its 10th year, has contributed more than 185 rings for donation. For cadets and alumni, this event symbolically bonds multiple generations of