Ring Melt

Dear Classmates,

On Monday 7 March, I was privileged and honored to attend the 11th annual West Point Ring Memorial Program, often called the Ring Melt as your representative and as a donor. The Program is one of the services that the West Point Association of Graduates, WPAOG, provides to the graduates and their families. To learn more about this program you can visit the AOG web site, http://www.westpointaog.org

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The Donated Rings

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Rings in Crucible

For this Ring Melt there were 29 rings donated which included 7 rings from our class. This was the highest annual donation in number of rings for a year and brought the overall total to 220 rings. Including myself, there were four living graduates who donated their rings, General Robert Shoemaker ’46, Mr. Fred Coleman ’64, and our classmate who donated anonymously in memory of Frank Reasoner.

The rings donated by the class included the rings of:

Francis R. Scharpf

James M. Worthington, Jr.

Ronald W. Witzel

William W. Mogan

Jack L. Rucker

Frank S. Reasoned (In memory of Reasoner by living Anonymous Donor.)

David R. McLaughlin

Also donated were rings from 1896 – 1964.

The ceremony began with plaques relating the biographies of the ring owners laid out on a table with the rings on top of each plaque. The Cadet Representatives took turns reading those bios to the family members and guests that were present. At the end of the reading the donor, West Point cadre, or a local grad would approach the table, take the ring and deposit into the crucible. I had the privilege of doing that for Frank Scharpf’s, Jim Worthinton’s, Bill Mogan’s, Jack Rucker’s and my ring. Elizabeth, (Liesl) Witzel was present and did the honors for Ron’s ring. For the ring anonymously donated by one of our classmates in memory of Frank S. Reasoner, I had the assistance of COL Edward Bierman ’60 the only Marine Officer present and a friend of Frank’s. The biographies told the story of the historical breadth and scope that those rings had been through. It was really inspiring.

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Ring Melt

Some of you are probably wondering why I donated my ring. Throughout history military units have been activated, de-activated and re-activated as the needs of the service required. Upon retirement in 1992 I “de-activated” my ring which through the years of service around the world had become un- wearable. It went into “mothballs” in my dresser drawer. For my 65th birthday Barbara and my children bought me a replacement which I wear today. Upon learning about the annual Ring Melt and coupling that with the affiliated class program I saw a new opportunity and mission for my original ring and therefore “re-activated” it for this mission. After meeting the cadet representative of the class of 2012 I am sure that they will do our donated class rings proud in the service to our Country. The cadets attending the Ring Melt included:

CDT Sulev Sepp President

CDT Haley Johnson Historian

CDT Chase Cappo Treasurer

CDT Joshua Orr ISO

CDT Isaac Dudley Ring/Crest Chair

CDT Mary Collins

They were accompanied by West Point Staff Officers:

COL Joseph DeAntona ’84 Brigade Tactical Officer

LTC Michail Huerter ’90 Class Advisor

MAJ Mike Rodick Class Officer in Charge

The 29 rings yielded 23 ounces of precious metal and the analysis later showed that approximately 58% was gold which yields about 13 oz. With the price of gold nowadays at over $1,440 an ounce produced a gold bar valued at over $18,700. Shavings were taken off this bar for inclusion in next year’s Ring Melt.

I hope that more of you will consider the donation of your rings sometime in the future. This is a new “Tradition” at the Academy but one I consider very worthy and inspirational. Looking forward to seeing all of you at the 50th reunion.

Dave McLaughlin

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