Class of 2017 Cadets learn their next destination at Post Night

Story and photos by Michelle Eberhart Assistant Editor

February 16th, 2017 | News, News and Features
A Class of 2017 cadet celebrates receiving his post of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. Cadets received their post assignments Feb. 8 and will report to their duty stations as commissioned officers after graduation from the Academy.
Commandant of Cadets, Brig. Gen. Diana Holland, congratulates Class of 2017 cadets on receiving their post assignments Feb. 8. After graduation, cadets will commission as second lieutenants and report to their newly assigned posts.

The Class of 2017 received its post assignments Feb. 9, and after a long-awaited journey, the firstie cadets finally know where they’ll be headed after graduation.

For the fifth consecutive year, the U.S. Military Academy has been using an Order of Merit List system which matches cadets’ academic and physical achievements with the Army’s needs. The cadets create a list of their top choices in hopes of getting their number one choice.

This year, 78 percent of cadets received their first choice, 95 percent received one of their top three choices and 97 percent received one of their top five choices.

Their list of choices is constructed with careful consideration, education and mentorship.

Capt. Robert Ali, one of the branch representatives, says there has been tremendous preparation coming into Post Night.

“Cadets come by at least 20-25 per week, asking about the different locations,” Ali said. “We tell them to use all the resources that they can, we also guide them to different websites, and I’ve sent a list of mentors here on West Point that they can talk to in order to learn about the different branches and posts, as well.”

After building their preference lists, cadets wait until Post Night to open the envelopes that will unveil their duty station for the next two to three years.

First Captain Cadet Hugh McConnell received his top choice and is looking forward to serving as an infantry officer at the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vincenza, Italy.

“I’m going to miss everybody here but at the same time I’m really looking forward to the people that I’m going to be posting with in the 173rd,” he said. “It’s definitely bittersweet because we’ve been along this four-year journey together and share this common experience and now we’re going off and doing our own thing.

“I think it’s a big transition step, so as we get going into focusing on the next step, Post Night is really an eye opener, let’s go ahead and knock it out,” McConnell added.

Cadet Nicholas Ball also got his first choice and will be headed to Hawaii.

“It’s beyond exciting, it was a relief to finally know where I’m going and when I’m actually going to the Army after these four, long, grueling years,” he said. “We’re finally gearing toward and getting ready to go into the operational Army and so we can do what we’ve been training to do.”

Cadet Marie Petrangeli got her first choice, but not without fighting for it.

“I had to PADSO, that means I committed three more years to get the spot at the post I wanted,” the future transportation officer heading to Germany said. “I think it will pay off in the long run to align with other goals I have in my life.”

Petrangeli says that finding out post assignments makes the 99 and a butt days until graduation feel even more real.

“Right now you kind of think, oh man, I’m going to be in Europe and my best friend’s going to be in Texas, it’s kind of mixed feelings, but right now it’s very exciting,” she said. “It all kind of unravels… This is all coming to an end, but it’s a great feeling.”

The firsties will celebrate another milestone this weekend with 100th Night.