By Brandon O'Connor, Pointer View Assistant EditorNovember 15, 2018
West Point, N.Y. (Nov. 15, 2018) -- The outbreak of emotion was instantaneous. As soon as he ripped open his envelope, pulled out the branch notification card and flipped it open to reveal a cyber pin, Class of 2019 Cadet Grayson Gordon fell to the ground.
Surrounded by his best friends, his fellow cadets who for more than three years have stood by his side every step of the way, Gordon let 41 months of hard work and determination break free into raw emotion. In the midst of celebrating his own selection as a member of the transportation corps, it was fellow Class of 2019 Cadet Matthew Suarez who wrapped his arm around Gordon, raised him to his feet and shared in the moment.
"I am very completely overcome," Gordon said of receiving cyber as his branch. "The amount of effort it takes to get to this point in any cadet's career is an unbelievable amount of work. I think what cyber contributes to the force here and what we have the ability to do and what it provides the Army as a mission set is so critical.
"It is always something I have wanted to be a part of. It was something I wanted really badly and I didn't know if it was going to work out for me. I did my absolute best to get here," Gordon added. "To open this up and see the cyber insignia for me was a culmination of a lot of work and a lot of support I have had from my family and friends."
Wednesday night, 1,020 members of the Class of 2019 received their branch notifications of what path they will follow at the beginning of their careers. The class was divided into 17 branches with 81 percent, once branch details are added in, starting their careers in one of the six combat arms branches.
"I came to West Point for a very specific reason and that was to lead from the front and be in the field," Class of 2019 Cadet Perry Huang, one of more than 200 cadets in his class to branch infantry, said. "I think infantry is one of, if not the only, branch where you can really truly experience that leadership and have that one-to-one connection with your Soldiers. It is a lot of responsibility and accountability finally being in this moment. The pressure is on and that is exactly what I have been looking forward to."
During the ceremony, each of the cadets in the class were presented with a card and gold pin announcing the branch he or she had been placed in. That piece of metal was then pinned to their chest marking a major step toward taking command of a platoon of their own.
"It was a life-changing moment," Class of 2019 Cadet Taylor Horne said of having her quartermaster pin attached to her uniform. "This is the first step of us out the door. This is your branch and in a few more months we are about to be graduating. It became really real that this is what you are going to do in the Army. It feels like this was an eye-opening moment to our classmates. You just got your branch so you need to prepare and make sure you are the best leader for the Soldiers who are coming. Whether or not you like the branch you got tonight, it is still going to happen so you need to prepare yourself to be the best leader."
Of the more than 1,000 members of the class, nearly 95 percent of them were placed in one of their top five branch choices during the ceremony. For many of them that meant a moment of instant joy upon opening their branch notification cards.
After being handed their envelopes by their tactical officers, the members of the Class of 2019 were told to hold them above their heads before being given the order to open them as a collective group by Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Steve Gilland. Once the envelopes were ripped open and their branch notification cards were revealed, the theater was filled with screams as cadets jumped, cried and hugged in joy.
"My roommate and I, we both wanted the same branch so everybody was instantly screaming and my envelope got stuck because I was really nervous," Horne said. "As soon as I got it open, it was pretty awesome because now me and my roommate, we are going to the same branch and this was my number one choice."
Once the initial excitement of seeing their branch died down, cadets turned to friends and mentors to have their branch pins attached to their uniforms on their right chests, above their names.
"Those are my closest friends here," Gordon said of having his friends pin his branch on him. "They have been through it all with me. They have seen this through with me from the very beginning. Frank Woo, who branched infantry, he helped me through my very first IT class and now I am able to branch cyber. It has been a very incredible experience and I am so glad to have shared it with them."
The members of the Class of 2019 will take another major step toward starting their Army careers in February during Post Night where they will pick their first duty stations.