Class of 2020 celebrates a milestone with Yearling Winter Weekend

Story and photos by Kathy Eastwood Staff Writer

February 8th, 2018 | News, News and Features
Members of the Class of 2020 enjoy snacks and soft drinks during the reception at the annual Yearling Winter Weekend banquet Feb. 3 at Washington Hall.
Lt. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr. was the guest speaker at the annual Yearling Winter Weekend banquet Feb. 3 at Washington Hall. Mayville, a 1982 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, is currently the deputy commander of Operations, United States Cyber Command.

While the Cows recently celebrated 500 nights before graduation Jan. 13 at their banquet, the Yearlings celebrated one of their milestones Feb. 3 at the annual Yearling Winter Weekend banquet in Washington Hall. This banquet celebrates surviving and thriving a year and a half of hard work and the first year with more privileges and leadership responsibilities. It is also the first event entirely planned and executed by yearlings.
Class of 2020 Class President Kyle Summa spoke to his classmates about what they have done in the year and half and where all this will lead in the future.
“For some, it is a mere 840 days when we will be throwing our white caps off in unison and finally hear the words ‘Class dismissed.’ For others, it may take a bit of time to show our girlfriends or boyfriends or friends from home how we live our daily lives,” Summa said. “We celebrate tonight for the time we first came to the academy 548 days ago surviving and thriving at West Point.
“Be the most you can be, whether we made our way through the night navigation or not falling more than three times on the balance bean in the indoor obstacle course,” Summa added. “Most importantly, strive and survive constantly and keep your eyes on the prize.”
U.S. Military Academy Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., echoed that description during his remarks at the Yearling banquet.
“We are celebrating the great Class of 2020, ‘Through Vision We Lead’ (class motto),” Caslen said. “As you are celebrating tonight, it marks one and a half years at West Point. Some of you are following how quick the time goes by and others are wondering why it is taking so long.
“You are celebrating the victories on the field of friendly strive.  Especially your victory over Navy, and after 21 years, bringing the Commander-in-Chief trophy back here where it belongs,” he added.
Caslen reminded the yearlings that they are becoming team leaders, successfully completing Cadet Field Training, and the memories of Air Assault School, airborne school, the nights with rain pouring down the back of their neck and mosquito bites so big even a tall can of Raid doesn’t help.
“It’s memories like this, the memories of your friends and classmates, the brotherhood and sisterhood celebrating the bonds that are running even deeper,” Caslen said. “This I know for sure, the Class of 2020 is doing well and you have a lot to accomplish.”
Guest speaker for the evening was Lt. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr., deputy commander of Operations, United States Cyber Command.
Mayville is a USMA 1982 graduate. He is the former commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy and commanded the brigade during its airborne assault in northern Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
Following brigade command, he served as Chief of Staff for U.S. Army Southern European Command and the combined Joint Task Force 76, Operation Enduring Freedom.
Mayville’s awards and decorations include the Distinguish Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with Valor and Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Achievement Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters, Master Parachutist Badge (with two Bronze Stars) Pathfinder Badge and the Ranger Tab.
“You are a great team here,” Mayville said. “My wife and I were at Trophy Point near a place I consider hollowed grounds, and if any of you have been academically challenged, you know where I was.
“Take the time to celebrate what you are going to accomplish, where you are and where you are going. And looking back, I don’t think I fully appreciated this milestone,” he continued. “Let me explain why I think this night is an important celebration. First, let’s talk about you as a class, more importantly, it is the friendships you have made. These friendships are important. These friendships are going to sustain you and challenge the situation throughout your career and life. These are the memories that are going to be with you, memories that are going to keep you together and confront your fear. So, place your chips on the relationships you have now. Don’t take them for granted. The memories of these buddies will sustain you through tough times.
“Thrown together by circumstances you did not control,” Mayville added. “You were forced to work together, create bonds of trust, and build teams so you can be successful and overcome challenges. Whatever superficialities and minor differences you had, you had the incentive to get past them. When you return from this summer’s training and go into your cow year and even into your firstie year, you will be put into leadership positions where you will build the bonds of experience and skills. From this day forward, leadership development, experience and training will build the bonds to prepare you to join the profession of arms.”