Twenty new graduates:Twenty cadets join the Long Gray Line

By Michelle Schneider PV Photojournalist

January 9th, 2020 | In Focus, News
Twenty cadets graduate from the U.S. Military Academy and become second lieutenants during a ceremony held in Robinson Auditorium Dec. 20
Cadets throw their hats in the air after graduating during the December Graduation ceremony in Robinson Auditorium Dec. 20. Photo by Tarnish Pride/PAO
  Twenty members of the U.S. Military Academy Class of 2019 salute during the December Graduation ceremony in Robinson Auditorium Dec. 20.
 A member of the Class of 2019 and new second lieutenant hugs a friend after the graduation ceremony finished.   Photos by Michelle Schneider/PV and Tarnish Pride/PAO
 Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Curtis A. Buzzard presides over the ceremony and hands out diplomas as members of the 50-year affliate class, USMA Class of 1969, provides the second lieutenant bars to the new officers

December Graduation at West Point may be a smaller group of cadets than the ceremony in May, but the level of achievement is equal to those graduating on a traditional timeline. Twenty cadets marched into Robinson Auditorium on Dec. 20 to receive their diplomas and were cheered on by friends and family members in the audience.
“This represents a time of achievement and transition as these cadets become officers. They take the oath, pin on their second lieutenant  bars and give their first salutes as officers. It is a day of reflecting on their educational and developmental journeys and thinking ahead to how they will contribute as leaders of character,” Dean of the Academic Board Brig. Gen. Cindy Jebb said. “They are a diverse group hailing from many parts of the country and a wide array of majors. We proudly send them to the ‘Big Army’ to represent the academy and defend our nation.”
The following cadets graduated as the December Class of 2019: Matthew Allgor, Jackson Darash, Cordarrell Davis, Randy Foristiere, Jinwon Heo, Camm Johnson, Jarrod Jones, Khodadod Kia, Sera Martorelli, James Nachtigal, Michael Neposchlan, Paul Rivera, William Saum, Nicholas Schrage, Zachary Scott, Thomas Spell, Shafer Swann, Benjamin Turner, Eric Turner and Ethan Wood.
Despite the group’s academic challenges, health ailments or other issues that set each of the cadets back, they have officially completed their West Point journey and joined the Long Gray Line.
For some cadets, they are following in the footsteps of their other family members.
“Our family has a history with the academy or a legacy. My father, my three uncles and two of my cousins have graduated from here. So, growing up in a dual military family, I was exposed to it and raised with those values and I was really motivated to serve,” 2nd Lt. Eric Turner said. “I keep joking about it with my family that I will not believe it’s real until I walk across the stage and they hand me the diploma. I’m very excited. It feels surreal.”