Jun 1, 2023


50-Year USMAPS Committee Mission: To develop and strengthen ties between graduates of the Class of 1978 and USMAPS Cadet Candidates (CC), USMAPS Class of 2024, as both groups work together to strengthen the Long Gray Line in service to our Nation.


USMAPS Committee Members: David Rich (Chair), Pete Eschbach (DepChair), Bill Forrester, Vaughn Vasconcellos, Phil Brandli, Jim Moye, Joe Pfanzelter, Patty Pfanzelter, Jim Hays, Jim Nagy, Gary Evans, Jim Young, Meade Wildrick


50-Year Affiliation, USMAPS Committee


After Two Years of Planning, the Sword is Unsheathed

USMAPS R-Day Support

After two years of planning our first 50-Year Affiliation event for the Class of 1978, supporting USMAPS R-Day on July 10 th , almost didn’t happen. Unprecedented rains the day prior in New York, with significant flooding and road closures, completely isolated West Point. Only one member of the team made it to West Pont the evening before, the rest were scattered in Central Valley and beyond. The Academy announced a weather CODE RED, no traffic in or out, roads and entry points CLOSED. Contingency planning texts and phone calls continued until well after midnight. USMAPS delayed R-Day start time from 0700 to 1230, hoping for access.

By midmorning, one or two roads were cleared, and a couple gates reopened. But getting anywhere on post required determination, flexibility, and patience. Somehow, every team member made it to their assigned support site and, best of all, to those supported it was transparent.

237 new Cadet Candidates (CCs) reported for R-Day, with two to three times that many family members and friends accompanying them. Some CCs were active-duty prior to R-Day, but the majority arrived only a few weeks after high school graduation. They will spend the next 11 months in a rigorous physical and academic environment before ascending to USMA as part of our Affiliation Class of 2028.

Every CC and parent were apprehensive of the unknowns after sign-in. But the Grip Hands attitude of our 50-Year Affiliation Committee mingling with the arrivals helped dispel the fear, create a bond, and signal our commitment to them through USMAPS, the 47 months at West Point, and service beyond. 50-Year Affiliation shirts and hats made us easily identifiable.

The ‘78 R-Day support consisted of three water points, an Affiliation information table and, in partnership with AOG, a parents’ reception following the famous “90-second goodbye”. The first water point was just outside Ike Hall, at the CC sign-in location. Two more were established on the USMAPS campus – one for in-processing CCs and another for family members as they arrived late in the afternoon for the oath ceremony. Our Affiliation table in Crest Hall allowed one-on-one interactions with parents and the provision of a 1-page information sheet explaining the 50-Year Affiliation Program in greater detail.

A half dozen from the Committee – Rich, Eschbach, Brandli, Moye, Hays, and Pfanzelter – formed the pointy tip of our Affiliation spear. Unfortunately, Pete Eschbach went on an unexpected sick call a couple days prior to execution.

Hearing that Pete couldn’t make formation, Patty Pfanzelter immediately got in touch, asking if she could tag along with Joe, filling in for Pete. Heck yes! And from the first minute to last, Patty proved a tireless team mate, all hustle and cheerful energy, simultaneously brightening and softening all of our efforts. She and her actions that day were ‘above and beyond’ selflessness.

And though every ’78 participant contributed to success, Jim Moye deserves special recognition and thanks. Living close to USMA, so much of the last-minute, fine-tuning coordination fell on him. Through it all, Jimmy was superb. He bought our ice and water, provided a pickup for transport, added 152-qt coolers, camp tables, chairs, tailgate tents, and Affiliation banners to complete the laydown. He made all the difference to this operation and deserves the thanks of the entire Class of 1978.

But our work isn’t done. The 50-Year Affiliation USMAPS Committee will support USMAPS events throughout the year, culminating with graduation next May. Support ops during the 2023-2024 year include but are not limited to:

  • Family Day (6Oct23)
  • Army-Navy Game @ USMAPS (11Nov23)
  • Vanguard Event (small seminars with CCs; Jan or Feb 2024, TBD)
  • Graduation (Parade, Ball, and Ceremony -- May 2024)

Click here to peruse the USMAPS R-Day Photo Album

Dutifully submitted,

David "Rico" Rich


Related Info & Resources

Feb 2, 2024

Vanguard Connection Event (VCE)

View details
Details Coming Soon
Nov 10, 2023

Army-Navy Game

View details
Details Coming Soon
Oct 6, 2023

Family Day

View details
Details Coming Soon