The following persons are eligible to be married in the United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel:
The Cadet Chapel
- Graduates of the United States Air Force Academy, the United States Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, United States Coast Guard Academy and the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
- Active duty personnel currently assigned to the United States Air Force Academy and active duty Air Force personnel stationed in the local area to include Buckley Air Force Base, CO.
- Dependents of active duty personnel currently assigned to the USAFA who hold a valid military dependent ID card on the day of the wedding.
- Purple Heart recipients and Silver Star recipients and above. ID card holding dependents of service members killed in action.
Soaring 150 feet toward the Colorado sky, the Air Force Academy Chapel is an all-faiths house of worship designed to meet the spiritual needs of cadets. It contains a separate chapel for four major religious faiths Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Buddhist plus an all-faiths room used by Islamic cadets and available for members of other faiths as well. There are two main levels, with the Protestant nave on the upper level and the Catholic, Jewish, and Buddhist chapels as well as the all-faiths room located beneath it. Each chapel has its own entrance, and services may be held simultaneously without interfering with one another.
The aluminum, glass and steel structure features 17 spires. There is no significance to this number. Original designs were too expensive, so changes were made, among them a reduction in the number of spires. The changes did not alter the basic design or the interior square footage of the chapel, however.
The chapel structure cost $3.5 million to build. Furnishings, pipe organs, liturgical fittings and adornments of the chapel were presented as gifts from individuals, organizations, and donations from Easter offerings made at Air Force bases.
The principal designer-architect of the chapel was Walter A. Netsch Jr. of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago. Construction was by Robert E. McKee, Inc. of Santa Fe, N.M.
The tetrahedrons form the walls and the 99-foot-high pinnacled ceiling of the Protestant Chapel. Stained glass windows form ribbons of color between the tetrahedrons. Eight basic colors graduate from cool to warm, moving from liturgical colors of Advent to Easter, from the narthex (entrance) to the chancel (altar area). The floor is gray-white terrazzo.
The chancel is set off by a crescent-shaped, varicolored reredos behind the altar. The 14 by 45-foot reredos represents the arms of God ready to receive anyone who goes there in prayer. Semiprecious stones from Colorado and pietra santa marble from Italy cover its 1,260 square-foot area.
A sleek marble slab 15 feet long, formed in the shape of ship symbolizing the church, is the holy table, or altar. Four travertine marble legs support the table.
The focal point of the chancel is the cross suspended over it. Constructed of aluminum, the cross is 46 feet, 2 inches high, 12 feet wide and weighs 1,200 pounds.
Surrounding the curved steps of the altar are 12 kneelers done in needle-point by officers wives' clubs throughout the Air Force. Each kneeler, except one, contains a cross seen in the historical development of representative art within the Protestant church.
The pews, which can seat 1,200, are of American walnut and African mahogany. They were sculptured so the end of each pew resembles a WW I airplane propeller. The backs of the pews are capped by a strip of aluminum similar to the leading edge of a fighter aircraft wing. Perched in the choir loft above the narthex and reaching the uppermost heights of the chapel is the classical pipe organ. Designed by Walter Holtkamp of the Holtkamp Organ Co. and built by the M.P Moller Co., the organ has 83 ranks and 67 stops controlling 4,334 pipes. The largest pipe is 32 feet high and the smallest is pencil size.
The focal point of the Catholic Chapel is the reredos behind the altar. An abstract glass mosaic mural, the reredos is composed of varying shades of blue, turquoise, rose and gray tessera to form a portrayal of the firmament. Superimposed on the mural and depicting the Annunciation are two 10-foot tall marble figures, The Blessed Mother on the left, and the Archangel Gabriel on the right. Above and between these two figures is a marble dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit.
In front of the reredos is the altar which was dedicated by the late Francis Cardinal Spellman on Sept. 22, 1963. The altar has a large table top of polished marble mounted on a cone-shaped pedestal. Above the altar is a six-foot sculptured nickel-silver crucifix. Altar furnishings are of high gloss nickel-silver.
The side walls of the chapel, from floor to ceiling, are panels of amber glass which cast soft brown colors across the chapel. Between the amber glass panels are strip windows of multi-colored cast glass set in pre-cast reinforced concrete.
Along the side walls are the 14 stations of the cross, carved from four-inch thick slabs of marble. The recessed backgrounds in the sculptures are multi-colored tessera.
Both the stations of the cross and the reredos were designed and completed by the late Lumen Martin Winter, who created "The Conversion of St. Paul" for the facade of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City. The Carrera marble in which the figures are done was taken from the same quarries from which Michelangelo drew his stone.
The pews, which seat 500 people, are of American walnut trimmed in satin finished stainless steel.
There is a reconciliation room at the rear of the 55- by 95-foot nave. On one side of the narthex is the baptistery and on the other side is the Blessed Sacrament Room, the walls of which are marble chips and semi-precious Colorado stones.
A The classical pipe organ, placed in the 100-seat choir loft, was designed by Walter Holtkamp and built by M. P. Moller Co. It features 36 ranks and 29 stops controlling its 1,950 pipes.
Architecturally, the synagogue is a circle within a square. The circular design symbolizes the global mission of the Air Force and the everlasting presence of God. The surrounding foyer is paved with 1,631 pieces of Jerusalem brownstone donated by the Israeli Defense Forces.
The walls of the foyer are purple stained glass panels alternating with green and blue stained accent windows. The circular walls of the synagogue are panels of translucent glass separated by stanchions of Israeli cypress.
The paintings, done by Shlomo Katz in 1985, are grouped by theme and each has a Biblical basis.
The focal point of the Jewish Chapel is the Aaron Kodesh, the Holy Ark, which shelters the Scrolls of the Torah. The Eternal Light hangs to the right of the Ark. Nested in three Stars of David, it symbolizes the ever-present God within the life of the Jewish People.
In the foyer of the chapel is a display cabinet with a Torah Scroll that was saved from the Nazis during World War II. It was found in Poland in 1989 in an abandoned warehouse and donated to the Jewish Chapel in April 1990. This "Holocaust Torah" is dedicated to the memory of all of those who fought against the Nazis.
The synagogue is the only one of the four cadet chapels with individual chairs for the congregants. It seats 100 people.
The Buddhist Chapel (Vast Refuge Dharma Hall) is 300 square-feet and is the newest addition to the Cadet Chapel. Donated in 2007, the Dharma Hall was built freestanding within the existing structure. It is made of Port Orford Cedar, a rare, fragrant wood used for temple building in Japan, and its simply proportioned design welcomes Buddhists of all denominations, as well as guests.
The altar and alcove are constructed of American Cherry and Ash and were designed and built by Takayuki Kida, a traditionally trained Japanese woodworker. The Buddha figure on the altar is Burmese, and the large lion-topped censor is from China. The figure of Avalokiteshvara, known as the one who hears the sounds of the worlds suffering, stands near the entry. The arrangement of the altar focuses on the Buddha figure, representing not only gratitude to the historical Shakyamuni Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama, born approximately 556 BCE) but also the possibility of awakening, or enlightenment. The altar also offers appreciation for the four elements of life: earth, air, fire, and water.
Ed Shure, the designer and builder of the hall, commented that he is very happy to have played a part in providing a place where people can enjoy the present moment.
The All Faiths Room
The All-Faiths Room is a worship area for smaller religious groups. It is purposely void of religious symbolism to make it acceptable to a variety of faiths. Distinguishing accouterments for special services are available.