Class of 2012 Receive Their Rings

The Class of 1962 proudly participated in 19-20 August 2011 affiliation festivities at West Point. In this “facet” of the 50 year Affiliation Program you were represented by Chairman and Ring Donor Dave McLaughlin and his bag handlers Bill Dieal and Bill Kosco. Making a cameo appearance after the Trophy Point Ring Ceremony at an open bar reception in Ike Hall was Gus Fishburne. Helping us all along the way was Nadia King ’91, the AOG Director of Class Support.

Also in attendance were Frank Reasoner’s son and grandson, Mickey and Alex who came all the way from Portland, Oregon. An anonymous class donor gave his ring in Frank’s honor. The Class of 2012 had 29 class rings incorporated into the gold of their rings. Members of the class of 1962 represented were Francis Scharpf, Jim Worthington, Ron Witzel, Bill Mogan, Jack Rucker, and Dave McLaughlin.

Memorable events included the storm that held off until the end of the Ring Presentation Ceremony and Dave’s remarks (see below) in Ike Hall to the Academy senior leadership and cadet ring committee representatives as the storm brewed over the Hudson. Betty and I were pleasantly surprised to out that General David Rodriquez was the Ring Weekend Banquet Guest Speaker. The General and I were able to bond on the 2002 Plebe Hike as our daughters were Beast roommates. He spent time talking to both Mickey and Alex and acknowledged them during his banquet remarks.

Alex Reasoner is a very bright, articulate and personable rising high school junior who has an interest in history and keeps in shape running cross country and playing lacrosse. This was Mickey and Alex first visit to West Point so we took the opportunity to show them the best of the Academy including Michie Stadium, Fort Putnam, the Cadet Chapel, the Library, the Cemetery, Grant Hall, and of course, with your donations, our soon to be well endowed Class of 1962 Room in Arvin Gym. Alex had done extensive reading before and during the trip and knew as much as I did, if not more. In Alex we have an excellent future prospect and I hope with all the higher education offers he will surely have that he seriously considers West Point.

Dave McLaughlin’s Remarks to USMA Senior Leadership and Members of Class of 2012 Ring Committee

19 August 2011

General Martin, Command Sgt. Major Burnett, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, members of the Class of 2012. As I was leaving the hotel this morning a doorman asked me, “Where are you bound for, Colonel” and when I replied, “West Point” he remarked, “Beautiful place, have you ever been there before?”

Oops! ….. Wait a minute. That’s not my speech. No, but it is an illustration of one of the things that my ring means to me — Memories. Memories of sitting in Washington Hall that 12th of May, 1962 as General Douglas McArthur delivered that farewell address to the Corps. At the ceremony today General Martin also shared some of his memories that are evoked by his ring.

Each of you have memories not only of what has personally happened to you here at West Point, but also memories of what other graduates have done and accomplished over the years. Yes! You are or will be part of that elite group known as the Long Gray Line. You cannot leave West Point without taking a part of it with you, just as you cannot leave West Point without leaving a part of yourself here as well.

You have or will face triumphs and tragedies, highs and lows, happy times and sad times and the one constant companion through all of those moments will be your West Point ring. My ring traveled with me from the jungles of Vietnam, where we lost 22 members of the class (including Frank Reasoner, our Medal of Honor recipient whose son and grandson are here tonight as the guest of an anonymous Class of ’62 ring donor, who knew Frank personally) to the jungles of Panama, from the mountains of Ecuador to Don Quixote’s plains of La Mancha in Spain, and from England to Guatemala. During all those times my ring was there reminding me that I could face each and every challenge presented because I had the training, the will power, the ability to improvise and improve any situation as taught to me at West Point, whether in the classroom or on the fields of “friendly strife.”

Now some of you are probably asking why, if the ring means so much to me, have I donated to the ring melt. The answer is simple and logical. After over thirty years of faithful service, my ring was battered and worn. In fact, so worn where it rubbed against my wedding band – that reminder of my other faithful companion, it had become as sharp as a razor, cutting into my finger. Balfour said that they could not fix it correctly and so I very reluctantly “deactivated” it and put it in mothballs. After a couple of years my wife and children, being well aware of the loss I felt at not having my ring on, presented me with a replacement on my 60th birthday; which I proudly wear today.

When I learned about the ring melt ceremony in 2009, It was a new mission for my companion of many years. But the timing wasn’t right. It was an opportunity to further bond my class with our affiliated class – the Class of 2012. So, I held on to my ring until time for the Class of 2012 Ring Melt. Now it has a new mission with new West Point graduates going forward to face new challenges and new opportunities while remembering those of us who have gone before.

A warning, however, is necessary at this point. This ring does not just provide memories for you. It evokes memories in the minds of many other people. It identifies to the rest of the world just who and what you are. The rest of the world recognizes that ring and knows what it stands for.

In 2006, I was sitting in a restaurant in Paris enjoying an excellent meal. My somewhat liberal son-in-law was sitting across from me against the wall. Next to him was seated an elegantly dressed, elderly French lady. He had ordered a meal that looked more like it should have been in a German restaurant, with sausages and potatoes, etc. Not able to contain herself she finally leaned over and asked him if that meal was good. He assured her that it was. She then turned to me and said, “That’s a West Point ring isn’t it? My son-in-law’s jaw dropped open. I replied to the lady that yes it was and that I was a graduate of the class of 1962. She did not ask me anything else. She did not have to. She knew who and what I was, the ring defined that for her. What memories my ring invoked in her mind we will never know.

That was not the first time that had happened to me nor was it the last. And I am sure that it has happened to many of you in this room. This ring is a symbol of huge proportions. People around the world know the ring and can identify others with it. Two Presidents, major leaders of armies, Medal of Honor recipients and officers on the front line doing their duty are summed up in that ring. So I know that the members of the class of 2012 will wear it proudly and remember that you are being watched and supported by a long line of men and women who have worn that ring before you.

I am sure that you will all meet that challenge and that my ring, those of my classmates, and the other donated rings will be a small part of your future accomplishments. My congratulations and best wishes to you, Class of 2012.

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