The U.S. Military Academy’s Coronavirus Guidance
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The U.S. Military Academy’s Coronavirus Guidance

As you have likely observed in recent news reports, COVID-19 continues to spread around the globe. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with the Department of Defense (DoD), continue to assess the risks to provide guidance on the spread of the virus and the U.S. Government response. The U.S. Military Academy and U.S. Army Garrison at West Point are closely monitoring the situation.

Due to the significant changes regarding the health risks associated with COVID-19, the U.S. Military Academy will delay the return of the Corps of Cadets from spring break until March 29, 2020. We continue to encourage our cadets, staff and faculty to practice heightened hygiene measures. Some of the planned precautions include: 

Individual screening  
Isolation for those who have traveled to specific areas of concern 
Implementing social distancing measures  
Remote learning  
Cadets should remain in contact with their chain of command for instructions on returning to the academy and reporting of travel. Staff and faculty should contact their supervisors for the latest information regarding their work status. If you do not feel well or are experiencing flu like symptoms, do not come to work.

The U.S. Military Academy will be temporarily closed to visitors beginning Friday evening, March 13, until further notice.

Please check this link to the Academy’s Coronavirus Guidance regularly for updates

West Point kicks off monthslong Founders Day celebration

The U.S. Military Academy will officially celebrate the 218th anniversary of its founding March 16, but the academy kicked off the monthslong celebration Feb. 27 with the annual Founders Day Corps Dinner.

Over the next two months, more than 120 West Point societies throughout the world will host Founders Day events honoring the contributions academy graduates have made and will continue to make to the Army and the United States as a whole.

Since its founding in 1802, the U.S. Military Academy has educated and trained the future leaders of the Army and prepared them to fight and win in the crucible of ground combat. More than 200 years after the first class of cadets graduated, West Point remains the pre-eminent leader development institution in the world.

The Founders Day events bring together alumni, current and future cadets, and the community where the event is being held. Each event features remarks by the oldest and youngest graduate in attendance as well as a keynote address from a member of the academy leadership or a prominent West Point graduate.

The dinner for the Corps of Cadets served as the first event in the monthslong Founders Day celebration. The goal of the evening was to prepare cadets to follow in the footsteps of the members of the Long Gray Line who have or are currently serving in hostile environments throughout the world.


Cadets research bioprinting to improve Soldier care in the future

WEST POINT, N.Y. — When Lt. Col. Jason Barnhill traveled to Africa last summer, he took with him not only the normal gear of an Army officer, but also a 3D printer.

Barnhill, who is the life science program director at the U.S. Military Academy, traveled to Africa to study how 3D printers could be used for field medical care. Barnhill’s printer was not set up to print objects made out of plastics as the printers are frequently known for. Instead, his printer makes bioprinted items that could one day be used to save Soldiers injured in combat.

The 3D bioprinting research has not reached the point where a printed organ or meniscus can be implanted into the body, but Barnhill and a team of cadets are working to advance the research in the field.

Twenty-six firsties are doing bioprinting research across seven different projects as their capstone this year. Two teams are working on biobandages for burn and field care. Two teams are working on how to bioengineer blood vessels to enable other bioprinted items that require a blood source, such as organs, to be viable. One team is working on printing a viable meniscus and the final team is working on printing a liver.

The basic process of printing biomaterial is the same as what is used to print a plastic figurine. A model of what will be printed is created on the computer, it is digitally sliced into layers and then the printer builds it layer by layer. The difference is the “ink” that is used.


Ambassador Crocker To Receive 2020 Sylvanus Thayer Award

The West Point Association of Graduates is pleased to announce that six-time U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker will receive the 2020 Sylvanus Thayer Award. The award will be presented on October 1, 2020 during ceremonies hosted by Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, Class of 1983, 60th Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

West Point Association of Graduates Board Chairman Lt. Gen. (USA, Ret.) Joseph E. DeFrancisco, Class of 1965, said, “The West Point Association of Graduates is honored to present the Thayer Award to Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Ambassador Crocker’s distinguished service to our country spans more than 40 years, starting in 1971 as a Foreign Service Officer. During his service, he excelled many significant assignments, including reestablishing an American diplomatic presence in Afghanistan during the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom, and assisting in the formation of the Iraq Governing Council, the first Iraqi governing structure after the defeat of Saddam Hussein. Without question, Ambassador Crocker’s career stands as an exemplar of Duty, Honor, Country, making him a most worthy selection of our highest award.” 


WWII veteran shares stories, life lessons with West Point cadets

In the skies over France as part of the D-Day invasion at Normandy, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth “Rock” Merritt’s plane got lost.

Merritt was a corporal in 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment at the time. Between midnight and 3 a.m., more than 800 planes carried in excess of 2,000 British and American Soldiers over Normandy to launch the assault on the German Army.

The planes were divided into battalions of 40 with radar in only the lead plane. As Merritt’s plane approached Normandy’s beaches, the lead plane banked to avoid enemy fire losing the 39 planes following it.

“My jumpmaster went up to see the pilot, and the pilot said ‘I’m lost. I can’t find your drop zone,'” Merritt said. “(My jumpmaster) said, ‘Are you over France? … I’m going back to the door. When I get back, give me the green light and we’re going to jump.’ Well, we did jump.”

Merritt’s jump into Normandy was one of the many stories he told to U.S. Military Academy cadets during a lecture Feb. 11. In World War II, Merritt, who retired from the Army in 1975, fought on D-Day, in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. He also fought in Korea and Vietnam during his Army career.


Family Of Fallen West Point Cadet From NJ Attend State Of Union

There was a lot of partisan rhetoric tossed around at the 2020 State of the Union address on Tuesday. But among the many storylines that emerged from the event, there were some that rose above party lines and united communities instead of dividing them.

Such was the case for April Morgan, the mother of fallen West Point cadet Christopher “C.J.” Morgan, who attended President Donald Trump’s speech as the honored guest of U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill.

The fallen 22-year-old from West Orange – whom Sherrill said was “the best and brightest of our country” – died in a tragic armored car crash in June 2019 near the U.S. Military Academy’s summer training site in Orange County, New York. Morgan was entering his senior year at the iconic institution.

“Our entire community grieves with the Morgan family,” Sherrill said, adding that she was honored that April Morgan accepted her request to attend the annual event in Washington D.C.


West Point wrestlers honor fellow cadet who was killed in accident

West Point wrestlers will honor a teammate killed in a vehicle rollover accident last year by hosting a match at his former high school in New Jersey.

The U.S. Military Academy wrestling team will host Lehigh University in an NCAA Division I match at West Orange High School Friday night to honor the memory of Christopher Morgan.

Morgan died in June 2019 after a tactical vehicle carrying cadets overturned during summer training exercises on the academy’s grounds. The 22-year-old had been a standout wrestler in high school and at West Point. He was scheduled to graduate this year.


West Point’s CMO center trains cadets to bridge civil-military divide

Story by Brandon OConnor
United States Military Academy at West Point

When U.S. Military Academy graduates commission in the Army starting as second lieutenants, their careers will likely take them to combat zones fighting for America, but in recent years Soldiers have also been deployed to help in humanitarian crises such as the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

No matter the challenges graduates will be asked to face, the academy’s Center for the Study of Civil-Military Operations is working to make sure they are equipped to work with international and domestic agencies outside of the Department of Defense as well as the civilian population in the areas they deploy to.

The center is in its eighth year and is based in the geography department at West Point. The CMO center educates cadets on how to work with civilian organizations and populations during military operations by teaching classes, sponsoring symposia and speakers, funding cadet trips and working to integrate CMO principles into classes throughout the academy.

“The Army itself really doesn’t start to address a lot of the functions of CMO until majors get to ILE (Intermediate-Level Education program), at least in terms of how we doctrinally establish it,” John Melkon, the civilian director of the Center for the Study of Civil-Military Operations, said.
“We’re hoping that when (cadets are) thrown into those situations, which increasingly they are at a younger grade, they’ll have an understanding and a better mindset for being able to tackle the complications that come with working with civilian counterparts.”

The center was founded in 2012 following a donation from USMA Class of 1989 graduate John DeBlasio who served as a civil affairs officer in the Army.

The goal is to train future officers to work alongside their civilian counterparts in order to not repeat perceived mistakes from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.


WPAOG binds together classes with annual ring melt ceremony

Standing in front of the crucible during the West Point Association of Graduates’ ring melt Friday with his grandfather’s ring in hand, Hobart Hewett took the only action that felt right-donating it to be melted down.

The ring had been missing for years, but the Saturday before Thanksgiving while cleaning out his mother’s room he made a startling discovery in the form of a worn ring of gold. Hewett had heard of the ring, but never actually seen it in person with its crest for the U.S. Military Academy’s Class of 1921 engraved on the side.

His grandfather, Maj. Gen. Hobart Hewett, entered the academy during one of the most fraught times in American military history. Although they still used the crest for 1921, he and his classmates graduated two years early in 1919 so they could join the fight in World War I.


West Point app undergoing updates as part of capstone project

WEST POINT, N.Y. — Are you trying to figure out what events are happening at the U.S. Military Academy? Are you curious about the menu at the mess hall or what courses are offered at West Point? Thanks to cadets in the systems engineering department, there’s an app for that.

Available on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, the West Point App was created to provide information to cadets, the community and visitors to West Point. The app has been up and running for a couple years but is currently undergoing changes as part of a capstone project for class of 2020 cadets in the systems engineering department.

“What we’re really focusing on for our group is marketing and usability,” Class of 2020 Cadet Zachary Aloma, an operations research major, said. “We’re trying to get the word out there that this app exists because it’s not too well known right now. Then second, we’re trying to make it a more usable app for three different communities.”

The capstone group doesn’t do any of the back-end coding for the app. Instead, their job is to analyze the usage data to see how different groups interact with the app and then pair that with the needs and wants of their two clients, Brig. Gen. Cindy R. Jebb, Dean of the Academic Board, and Col. Cecil Marson, West Point garrison commander.


West Point takes day to reflect on honorable living

All classes were cancelled at the U.S. Military Academy Jan. 14 and work was set aside as the cadets, staff and faculty came together to talk about how to live honorably, build cohesive teams and combat issues related to sexual assault and harassment at the academy.

This marked the third Honorable Living Day hosted by the academy during the tenure of West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams.

The first was held last February and brought the West Point community together to discuss the results of the biennial Service Academy Gender Relations survey and begin formulating responses to eliminate sexual assault and harassment at the academy. USMA stood-down again last semester to build upon that discussion and call cadets, staff and faculty to action to combat issues at the academy and improve the culture in order to combat sexual assault.

Tuesday, the entire academy once again held a stand down day. This time the goal was to expand the discussion beyond sexual assault and talk about how all aspects of the community can come together and promote an atmosphere of honorable living to include diversity, inclusion and acceptance of people from differing backgrounds, races and genders.

“About a year ago, we paused and brought the entire community together-cadets, staff, faculty and coaches-to have a hard and frank conversation about the issue of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Since then, we’ve made many strides to address this issue,” Williams said. “We firmly planted ourselves in this space-you, me and the entire team-and have recommitted ourselves to ending sexual assault and the behaviors that undermine the dignity and respect each and every one of us deserve.”