All Service Academies Ball honors military academy students

| Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, 8:39 p.m.

Military pomp and elegance filled the ballroom on Saturday at the Westin Convention Center hotel, which hosted the 14th annual All Service Academies Ball to honor local midshipmen and cadets studying at the nation's five military academies.

The 26 young men and women who are academy students from Western Pennsylvania looked dignified and excited in their handsome dress military uniforms as they hooked arms with their escorts — either men in tuxedoes or women in fancy gowns — and entered the banquet hall to be introduced onstage, one by one, in a Grand March while patriotic music played.

The students come from the Army's West Point Military Academy, with the formal gray uniforms; the U.S. Air Force Academy, with blue uniforms; and the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and U.S. Coast Guard Academy, in black uniforms.

Toastmaster Dr. R. Bruce Bickel presented the midshipmen and cadets as the nation's future leaders, and led formal toasts to President Barack Obama and the U.S. armed forces. Rear Adm. Terry Benedict, a 1982 graduate of the Naval Academy, gave a speech over dinner.

Ball chairGail Carl organized the event, and also attended as a proud parent. Her daughter — Midshipman 2nd Class Samantha Carl, 20, a Naval Academy junior — crossed the stage at the ball.

“It's just our way of honoring them and recognizing their choice to serve in the military,” Gail Carl said about the ball. “These kids could have gone anywhere.”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7824.

Kate Benz is on vacation.

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