By Michelle EberhartMay 27, 2016
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- The Long Gray Line welcomed its newest members May 21 during the United States Military Academy at West Point Class of 2016 Graduation and Commissioning Ceremony at Michie Stadium.
Nine hundred and fifty-three Cadets received diplomas including 25 combat veterans, 11 international Cadets and 151 women, who commissioned as second lieutenants into the U.S. Army.
The Class of 2016 motto, "With Honor, We Lead," embodied each of the 953 Cadets, but while all of them reached the same pivotal moment, each of their stories is different.
Second Lt. Hyun Suk Kim from South Korea was one of the 11 international Cadets to commission. He will be returning to South Korea to serve Infantry.
"I've been waiting for this moment," Kim said. "I've always told my friends I'm going to cry right after I throw my hat, so it cannot be better."
Kim was also happy to have his parents and his sister come to his graduation, the first time they've visited since R-Day four years ago.
"I'm so excited to show them around, it's been great, they're really enjoying it," Kim said. "I just want to say thanks to West Point and all my classmates, my mentors, for helping me out, if I didn't have them I wouldn't be able to graduate, so thanks a lot United States."
Although 2nd Lt. Christopher Short will be staying in the U.S., his sentiments were similar.
"I feel really good. Really, really good," Short said. "I've been waiting so long for this to happen and just the anxiety and excitement of it all, it's really exciting."
Short was able to enjoy the company of his parents for the week, but is looking forward to begin his career as an officer. He branched Field Artillery and will be going to Fort Hood, Texas, for his first post.
Second Lt. Joyce Johnson was one of the 16 percent of women who graduated from the Class of 2016.
"I feel pretty excited, a lot of mixed emotions," Johnson said. "Leaving some good friends behind, but really excited to go out there and get to be in the Army."
Johnson branched Field Artillery and will head to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, but will miss a lot about her rockbound highland home.
"Definitely the people is what I'm going to miss the most," Johnson said. "I'm going to miss the mentors, miss the instructors, miss the classmates, miss the underclassmen."
But what Johnson won't miss?
"I'm not going to miss drill," Johnson said.
The "Goat" of the class, 2nd Lt. Alex Fletcher, seemed to be the most excited member of the Class of 2016, as he was the last ranked Cadet to graduate.
"I am beyond ecstatic," Fletcher said. "Not only did I graduate, it was really touch and go there, but I also got the Goat."
Fletcher noted that becoming the "Goat" was actually a goal of his for a long time.
"I have been wanting this day since I was a freshman," Fletcher noted. "I remember when I was in the stands as a freshman, I saw the goat, everybody just started cheering, and I knew that's what I wanted."
Fletcher got the applause he was waiting for when the whole Corps gave him a standing ovation as his name was announced.
"It's been a lot of hard work, a lot of up and downs, but I'm so ecstatic right now," Fletcher said.
Fletcher branched Field Artillery and posted to Fort Drum. He leaves for the Basic Officer Leadership Course in July.
After the graduation ceremony came to a close, the newly commissioned officers had their bar pinning ceremonies with their families and friends pinning their first sets of second lieutenant bars on their shoulders as their mentors and TAC officers were in attendance.