Where to Next? USMA Class of 2020 picks their future duty stations

By Michelle Schneider PV Photojournalist

February 13th, 2020 | In Focus, News
 The U.S. Military Academy Class of 2020 selects its Army duty stations Feb. 5 during Post Night. Cadet Michael McGerty , future Infantry officer, holds up his choice of Fort Bragg, N.C., in Arnold Auditorium.
 Cadet Gavin McAuliffe , future Military Intelligence officer, nabbed Hawaii with his choice.
 Cadet Ebakoliane Obiomon , future Artillery officer, is excited to head to 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.
 Class of 2020 Cadet Taylor Reim excitedly holds up her choice of Fort Campbell, Ky., during the Post Night ceremony Feb. 5. Reim will branch Military Intelligence. Photo by Bryan Ilyankoff/USMA PAO

Approximately 1,000 cadets from the U.S. Military Academy Class of 2020 received their post assignments Feb. 5. Post Night signifies one of the last class milestones before graduation and commissioning into the Army.
“It’s a fun night and one of the final events for cadets prior to graduation,” Accessions Division Chief Maj. Jared Sunsdahl said. “They know their branch, and they now know their post. Now, they just need to graduate and get ready to serve as lieutenants in the Army.”
One of the more interesting items about Post Night is it’s done draft style, Sunsdahl explained.
“Basically, cadets within their branch are seated in their order of merit list,” Sunsdahl said. “The number one standing cadet of each branch gets the very first pick. Once he or she picks (his or her) post, it comes off the board permanently and then you go until the very last cadet picks the last post.”
Class of 2020 Cadet Scott Flanick is one of 256 cadets who branched into infantry last semester. Flanick, who is from Montgomery,  New York, said he was open to going anywhere but wouldn’t have minded going to Fort Drum to be closer to home.
Flanick may be flexible about his post but his branch choice, he said, was his calling.
“Junior year, I felt a real draw toward infantry,” Flanick said. “I went to one of my mentors about it and asked why he chose infantry. He said, ‘Because the Soldier is the weapon system. No matter what you give them, even sticks and stones, they will always close with, engage and destroy the enemy.’ That’s something that has always resonated with me.”
As it turns out, Flanick is going to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington and is excited to reconnect with a few of his teammates and encounter new challenges.
“Going to a Stryker brigade combat team excites me because I haven’t had any experience with Strykers yet and I am excited to gain the wealth of knowledge that comes with operating in a Stryker unit,” Flanick said. “I am (also) excited to link up with old teammates because I know they will resonate the same competitive culture that I have always strived to exemplify.”
Class of 2020 Cadet Elizabeth Cross, from York, Pennsylvania, hoped to join the 2nd Brigade Combat Team in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, because of its great reputation and high up-tempo training environment.
“For me, I am all about the Army. I’m excited to get started. So, going to the post with the most training and vigor in the Army really appeals to me,” Cross said. “West Point has prepared me to be an officer, not just in a tactical sense but with a focus on leadership through character, and that’s what matters at the end of the day. Getting to lead other people is an honor.”
Cross ended up getting the unit and post of her desire as she chose 2nd BCT at Fort Bragg.
“I felt blessed and spirited,” Cross, who branched infantry, said. “For me, being given an opportunity to take what I’ve learned at West Point to a unit known for its drive—that’s motivating.”
Although not every cadet got their first, second or even third post preference, Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Curtis Buzzard said it is on the individual to decide what kind of experience he or she wants when serving in the Army.
Now with Post Night in the rearview, the Class of 2020 will focus on the tasks at hand before May 23 when approximately 1,000 new second lieutenants will receive their bars and enter the Army ready to fight and win our nation’s wars.