By Kathy Eastwood, U.S. Military Academy Public AffairsFebruary 6, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 6, 2013) -- West Point hosted the third annual Maneuver Ball Feb. 1 at the West Point Club with nearly 350 community members, staff and faculty attending, including 150 Class of 2013 cadets branching Armor or Infantry.
Class of 2013 Cadet Caleb Bloom, who branched Armor and will be headed to Fort Hood, Texas, is pumped up to get to his first Army job.
"I like the mission and the camaraderie of Armor," he said. "When I went to Fort Benning (Ga.), I felt at home and the leaders were very helpful."
Bloom committed to additional years of service to get Fort Hood, where the Houston native will feel at home.
Class of 2013 Cadet Jonathan Kaicher branched Infantry and received his first choice posting in Hawaii.
"My experience of the last four years here has pushed me in the direction of Infantry," Kaicher said. "My dad was in the Coast Guard and my brother is in the Army. Most of my family has served in some capacity."
The Maneuver Ball included a reception, dinner, dancing and a punch bowl ceremony with the making of the grog, an interesting mixture with every ingredient having some significance. One example is a Soldier's boot, signifying the long treks and battles of servicemen.
The event included the presentation of the Order of Saint Maurice to Maj. Matt Dawson, Maj. Jeff Higgins and Capt. Mark Moretti. The Order of Saint George was awarded to Sgt. 1st Class David Pakulak, who could not attend.
The Noble Patron Saint of Armor was presented to Maj. Dallas Cheatham and the Order of Saint Joan D 'Arc Award was presented to Sarah Soyka and Staci Silk.
The Order of Saint Maurice is awarded by the National Infantry Association for outstanding or conspicuous contribution to the Infantry; The Order of Saint George Award is given to the finest members of Armor's tankers and cavalrymen; the Nobel Patron Saint of Armor is awarded to outstanding supporters of the armor forces and the Order of Joan D 'Arc Award is bestowed on people, generally spouses, who have voluntarily made contributions of great significance to the morale, welfare and spirit of armor cavalry units in the United States Army.
Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, commanding general of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Ga., and a 1984 U.S. Military Academy graduate, was the guest speaker.
"One of things I have to keep in mind is we have now only one half of one percent of our population serving," McMaster said. "The size of our Army now has been reduced by about 45,000. Now think about what our Army was facing in the threat of Nazi fascism and Japanese imperialism. Between World War I and World War II, the Army of 149,000 was expanded to an Army of eight million during World War II. Think about what the officers faced in World War II."
McMaster said he mentioned this because with the drawdown in Afghanistan and Iraq, he has spoken to Soldiers at Fort Benning who questioned whether they would have the chance to lead in combat.
"That is not the case," he said. "And the scope of history bares that out. Imagine again, you are member of the Class of 1950, and in May of 1950, you are going to what you think is a cushy job in Japan. Many did not go to a basic course, they deployed directly to their units. A month later, North Korea invades South Korea, and you are leading your Soldiers in a desperate battle."
Speaking directly to cadets, McMaster said they are this generation of leaders and will be the ones to adapt to the changing Army, and they will develop in their platoons and battalions, the toughness, the confidence in themselves and in their Soldiers.
"Soldiers will follow a good leader anywhere and under any conditions of battle," he said. "Be that leader."