Black ’57

Broke Ranks at Graduation


The Class of 1957 was referred to as the Black Class and were not allowed to return to the Grounds of West Point for a number of years.

The above statement is wrong, but is left in to demonstrate how quickly Cadet Lore develops – when you complete this page please go to http://forwhattheygaveonsaturdayafternoon.com/wp-1957/error-57lore

I was told as Plebe in the summer of 1958 that ’57 was not allowed to return. I was also told that the ’57 Company Commander of L-1 ordered his Classmates to remain in formation when the other companies broke and ran across the Plain. I do not know if it was fear or respect that held L-1 ranks, I do know that I was Proud to be a L-1 Plebe that summer. (There was some adjustment over the next 4 years – but I have always been proud to have been a member of L-1 – see below )

It should be noted that the Class gift from ’57 is one of the finest at the Academy. It should also be noted that the Class of ’57 was not the only Class to be labled a Black Class. (see bottom of page)

The following article from the Supe appeared in the Assembly the Summer of 1957

“The Class of 1957 disappointed everyone present for June Week when they broke Ranks as they moved forward to the reviewing line during Graduation Parade. Apparently, members of the Class felt that they were perpetuating a tradition since some classes had rushed to the reviewing line at Graduation Parades in recent years.

You may be sure that I am taking the necessary steps to prevent a recurrence of this practice that tends to destroy the solemnity and dignity of the Graduation Parade.”

LTG “Gar Davidson”, ASSEMBLY, Summer 1957

The complete story is at http://forwhattheygaveonsaturdayafternoon.com/wp-1957/grad-prad

It should be noted that the Class gift from ’57 is one of the finest at the Academy. It should also be noted that the Class of ’57 was not the only Class to be labled a Black Class. (see note from AOG)

Given by the Class of 1957

Note from AOG

— It was Black ’57 that broke ranks at their graduation parade. The Class of 1946 also was called Black ’46, evidently for their activities at Benning after graduation.

Two incidents by members of the Class of 1962

Ranger School after Graduation

In fairness to ’57 at the end of Ranger School Winter 1963, several members of our Ranger Company had some alcohol in celebration. They removed the rope from the pully at the top of the flag pole, preventing the raising of the Flag.

Someone told Pete Dawkins (’59 having spent 3 years as a Rhodes Scholar) our Ranger Class Leader that I was a lightweight with upper body strength having wrestled 123. My Classmates failed to inform Pete that I had returned to my normal weight of 153 pounds since the end of wrestling.

Pete came to me and asked me to climb to the top of the Flag Pole. One just did not tell Saint Peter (we actually referred to him as Saint Peter at the Academy no to anything he asked.

Pete tied the Swiss seat himself – taking that resposibility. He had secured a Grove, Boom or Cherry Picker whatever you want to call it to lift me nearly to the top. I only had to go the last 10 feet. I was scared “S_ _ t” — but it was as easy as Pete said it would be.

In all fairness as a Cadet I had repelled off the roof of Thayer Hall several times with nothing more than a very long rope and swiss seat short rope tied around your waist & butt . That is until an officer from one of the academic departments caught us. In Fairness — that Flag Pole was skinny and swayed in the wind.

Graduation Parade 1960 & 1961

After 2 years at school I had a pair of shoes which were starting to crack because of the spit shinning. I did not want to throw them away as they were a good looking pair of shoes, but I could not wear disreputable shoes as demerits would have come my way. I hid them until graduation of the Class 2 years ahead of me. I put them on for their Graduation Parade and as we stood at attention I slipped them off and stepped carefully back so as not to be seen by the Army brass across the Plain. I marched off the field and into Central Area, where a Plebe met me with a second pair of shoes. An action well done.

The next year a similar problem arose with having gone through another pair of shoes. The only solution was to repeat what I had accomplished the year before. Everything again went fine until I returned to Central Area. The Plebe was not there with my shoes. He finally arrived but I did not have time to tie the laces as our Tactical Officer arrived to inspect us it seems shoes left on the Plain after a Parade was not in the best interests of the Corps of Cadets.

As he came down the ranks he stopped in front of me and asked if I had left my shoes on the Parade Field. As a result I was the first one in my Class to be reduced to private — that was before I was even promoted. The punishment was 30 hours on the Area (marching) 30 days of Confinement (to my room) and 30 Demerits.

I was scheduled to train the new Plebe Class that summer but they could not have an upper Classman who was responsible for training the new Cadets walking the Area. I was sent out to train the Yearling Class or Sophomore Class. I had little to do in Confinement — so I began to practice. I put a towel around my butt and swung it back and forth practicing the Twist. For my 30 days leave that summer I went over to Europe and taught the young ladies of Europe how to do the Twist. I will Twist to this day any time the Music is played.

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