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Public Affairs : Class of 2019 Plebe Parent Weekend

Class of 2019 Plebe Parent Weekend: So Freedom Will Reign

Story and photos by Michelle Eberhart

WEST POINT, N.Y. (March 13, 2016) - West Point parents came from across the globe to visit their U.S. Military Academy Cadets for Plebe Parent Weekend March 11-13.

Freshman class parents had the opportunity to tour the barracks, visit classes, enjoy the Plebe-Parent Weekend Review and attend the Class of 2019 banquet.

“I’m really impressed with West Point, it’s a beautiful campus filled with amazing people with a lot of high ambition, a lot of skill just budding with opportunity,” said Vance Fryer, father to Class of 2019 Cadet Jacob Fryer. “I love the support that they get from the leadership here as well.”

Fryer traveled to West Point from Jakarta, Indonesia for the weekend and flew back on Monday.

“I live internationally … so communication and opportunities to visit are not easy. It takes a lot of time to come over here,” Fryer said.

However, spending time at Grant Hall over a meal and meeting his son’s professors made the trip well worth it.

“I like to see my son succeeding here,” Fryer said. “After having made a very determined effort to get here, to see him succeeding so well, as a parent, it makes me very happy.”

Jacob is equally content.

“It’s really good having my dad here. Like he said, he lives in Jakarta, Indonesia so there’s a lot of distance between us,” he said. “We try to keep in contact by phone or by Facebook, but it’s not the same as seeing each other face to face so I’m really thankful that we have this Plebe Parent Weekend, to show our parents what it’s like here, sort of show things through our own perspective.”

While his father went back to Indonesia, Jacob enjoyed his spring break in Utah with friends and family.

Gasper Gulotta, a Class of 1981 graduate and father to Class of 2019 Cadet Charlie Gulotta, enjoyed his Plebe Parent Weekend as well.

In fact, he enjoyed it a lot better the second time around.

“It’s a lot nicer now as a graduate,” Gulotta said, reminiscing over his own time as a plebe.

Back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Gulotta’s wife and then-girlfriend, Joanne, recalls having to eat with him in the mess hall during Thanksgiving holiday and spring break. This time, they can bring their plebe home.

“We are really happy to connect with our son and see his success here, see the facilities and see the support he’s getting from the institution,” Gulotta said. “And we’re really excited about taking him home for spring break, and giving him a chance to unwind for a week before sending him back from Washington State.”

Gulotta says the cadet mindset has changed over the last 35 years.

“He is doing much better than I was doing,” Gulotta said. “I think they are better mentally prepared and so he is actually enjoying himself, which I don’t remember ever doing.”

 20160312-A-AO880-106.jpgFather of a Plebe pins on a medal during Plebe Parent Weekend.

He says the most impressive thing he has seen throughout the Corps is the desire to serve.

“(Charlie) and a lot of his classmates have a real desire to serve where I remember most of the folks I was with, we were just trying to get through our four years and do whatever we were doing, we weren’t really thinking about serving in a time of war, it was Cold War when I was in,” he said of his experience. “These young people know exactly what they’re getting themselves into but they’re still willing to come and serve and that’s kind of like an amazing thing, there’s a maturity there that we didn’t have.”

What makes Charlie’s mom the happiest is her son’s feelings about West Point.

“He told us right within the week, when he could contact us (after Beast), was that, ‘I was meant to be here,’ my husband never said that,” Joanne said.

“He said everybody’s working hard in the gym, in the classroom, that seems to really inspire him, he’s really proud of that, something that you might not see at another college,” she continued.

Aside from the standard tours and parades, guests got to watch the West Point Parachute Team perform a demonstration after the Plebe- Parent Review.

Sandy and Joe Neumann were especially lucky and had the opportunity to watch their son, Class of 2019 Cadet Austin Neumann, make his first jump.

“We were just so excited for him,” Sandy Neumann said. “We are so proud that he is a member of the West Point Parachute Team. This was his first time ever.”

Austin was thrilled he got to experience this monumental moment with his parents.

“It was memorable for my first jump,” Austin said of his parents’ visit. “I’m really glad that they came up here and it’s just a coincidence that it was my first jump, so everything coming together, it’s really great.”

The weekend ended with the Class of 2019 Banquet where they revealed their Class Crest with the motto, “So Freedom Will Reign.”

After the weekend was over, cadets were dismissed for spring break.