Yearlings celebrate:Yearlings reflect on good times, Ostlund speaks about setting foundation to lead

By Brandon O’Connor Assistant Editor

February 7th, 2019 | News, News and Features
 U.S. Military Academy Class of 2021 cadets  celebrated Yearling Winter Weekend Feb. 2 at the Cadet Mess Hall. Photo by Michael Lopez/PAO
 The guest speaker was Col. William Ostlund, former director of the Department of Military Instruction, spoke to the class during Yearling Winter Weekend.  Photo by Brandon O’Connor/PV
U.S. Military Academy Class of 2021 cadet speaks to 3rd Regiment Tactical Officer Lt. Col. Jerome Parker and his wife during the receivng line at the Yearling Winter Weekend Feb. 2.  Photo by Brandon O'Connor/PV
Class of 2021 Cadet Gabriel Fuhrman leads the ceremonial toast “to out guests” during Yearling Winter Weekend Feb. 2 at the Cadet Mess Hall.  Photo by Michael Lopez/PAO
 A table is set at each banquet in honor of fallen Soldiers and graduates. Photo by Michael Lopez/PAO

As they near the midpoint of their time at the U.S. Military Academy, cadets in the Class of 2021 took some time to celebrate all they have achieved so far.
The class hosted the annual Yearling Winter Weekend this past weekend, which included a banquet and hop in the Cadet Mess Hall. The banquet is one of four that will be held this term as each class is given a chance to celebrate. The Class of 2020’s 500th Night banquet was held the weekend before and the Class of 2019’s 100th Night and Class of 2022’s Plebe Parent Weekend banquets will be held in the coming weeks.
“Although it seems a long way off, the day is fast approaching when the time to learn has passed and we will be called upon to lead the young men and women of this nation. That is a task we will be prepared and will face without fear in our hearts,” Class of 2021 President Nicholas McDonald said. “I believe that despite our frustrations, we will look upon these days as some of the best of our lives and the most memorable.”
The Class of 2021 was joined in its celebration by Col. William Ostlund, who served as guest speaker at the banquet. Ostlund is the former director of the Department of Military Instruction at West Point and will soon retire following a 36-year career with the Army.
“I do believe we are the pre-eminent leadership development institution in the world and that when our nation is in peril, our graduates are called upon to navigate us out of peril,” Ostlund, who is not a graduate of West Point but served at the academy twice, said. “I believe the cadets that you arrived with—those that choose to spend a career in the military— will be the ones called upon to navigate our nation out of peril. We are overdue, which is why we say—warriors wanted. Perhaps needed.”
Warriors wanted was a constant refrain throughout Ostlund’s remarks as he started off by playing the Army’s new warriors wanted advertising videos and then used that message along with stories from his own career to inspire the cadets.
Ostlund enlisted in the Army and joined the Rangers straight out of high school before commissioning through ROTC. He told the stories of arriving at the Rangers as an 18-year-old on the same day his unit jumped into Grenada and arriving at the 101st Air Assault Division the day before Iraq invaded Kuwait starting Desert Storm. Those two experiences, he said, laid a foundation for his career and his lifelong commitment to training and preparing Soldiers to be warriors.
“So, what does it take to be a warrior?” Ostlund asked. “It takes character, competence, commitment and the courage to consistently demonstrate the same—set on a foundation of selflessness. Character to do what is right. Competence to know what is right. Commitment to be the leader your Soldiers deserve and courage to have character, to improve competence and to demonstrate commitment.”
Ostlund added that to develop the four Cs of being a warrior, “It takes a conscience and it takes practice.” Conscience is important, he said, because when you fail you will then feel, “Action-changing guilt,” which will encourage you to work harder and fix the weaknesses that led to the failure in the first place.
“I implore you to train your Soldiers for combat and train yourself to lead your Soldiers in combat. Push yourself and take risks,” Ostlund said.
He concluded his remarks by asking each of the cadets, guests and senior leaders in attendance to ask themselves what they stand for, what is their framework and how they want to be remembered. Those three questions, he said, and knowing how you will answer them, “will help take fear out of your soul on your most trying days.”
Following his remarks, Ostlund was presented with a cadet saber by the Class of 2021.