WEST POINT, N.Y. (Nov. 10, 2010) -- "You may now open your envelopes."

Seconds after Col. Casey Haskins, Department of Military Instruction director, spoke those six words on Nov. 7, the Class of 2011 tore open the envelopes in their hands and began shouting and jumping for joy. That was the climactic moment of Branch Night, when the firsties learn for the first time the career path the Army will lead them toward as commissioned officers.

Cadet Ji Kim described the wait after everyone assembled in the auditorium as the longest 30 minutes of his life.

"We're just sitting around, people keep walking on and off stage, we're just waiting-for the love of God-to start so we could open these envelopes in our hands," Kim said.

When the Torrance, Calif., native finally opened his envelope, Kim was extremely excited and relieved to see he was selected for the armor branch.

It was his first choice since his father is currently an armor noncommissioned officer at Fort Bliss, Texas.

"I'm just trying to follow in his footsteps," Kim declared proudly.

Cadet Daniel Bader's reasons for choosing the infantry branch were somewhat Family-related--he comes from an "Air Force Family," which inspired him to try a different path.

"Infantry seemed like the biggest challenge, and I wanted to be where the biggest challenge was," the McLean, Va., native said. "I'm looking forward to Ranger School, I'm looking for the opportunity to train, and I just hope to God I do a good job."

Cadets Melissa Ivanco and Chad Plenge were also excited to branch into their first choice--military police. Plenge, a Monroe, Wis., native, is in charge of the cadet law enforcement club here. Both had spent their Cadet Troop Leader Training with actual police units and are looking forward to taking on the many missions the branch is entrusted with.

"MPs do absolutely everything--from garrison security and criminal justice to training other troops and Iraqi nationals," Ivanco, a Roanoke, Va., native said. "The possibilities are endless, so I'm really looking forward to that, but it also makes me a little nervous, too."

"When you're still here in the States, you still have a mission to do," Plenge said. "Then when you're overseas, you're working with other people ... to build armies and train their police forces so, hopefully, they can keep their country safe and secure as well, which I think is amazing."

There was one thought nearly every cadet in that auditorium had in common that night-the news in their envelopes was a reality check that they would soon be leading Soldiers into combat. They will be trusted with the challenges of accomplishing the mission and safeguarding their Soldiers' lives.

"We learn a lot about them here, and you just hope that you'll make the right decision," Plenge said. "But you trust that everything was done here to prepare you for that and you'll be ready to go."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16