Academy cadets march in 57th inaugural parade

President Barack Obama, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III and Vice President Joe Biden (top right) recognize Cadet Squadron 22 as it marches during the 57th inaugural parade Jan. 21, 2013. The armed forces have participated in inaugurations since George Washington was sworn in April 30, 1789. (U.S. Air Force photo/Elizabeth Andrews)

President Barack Obama, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III and Vice President Joe Biden (top right) recognize Cadet Squadron 22 as it marches during the 57th Inaugural Parade Jan. 21, 2013. The armed forces have participated in inaugurations since George Washington was sworn in April 30, 1789. (U.S. Air Force photo/Elizabeth Andrews)

Air Force Academy cadets march along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington during the 57th inaugural parade Jan. 21, 2013. The cadets represented Cadet Squadron 22, which was the Academy's outstanding cadet squadron in 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Elizabeth Andrews)

Air Force Academy cadets march along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington during the 57th Inaugural Parade Jan. 21, 2013. The cadets represented Cadet Squadron 22, which was the Academy's outstanding cadet squadron in 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Elizabeth Andrews)

WASHINGTON -- Cadets with the Air Force Academy's outstanding cadet squadron of 2012 marched down the streets of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington Jan. 21 as part of the 57th Inauguration Parade, honoring the swearing-in of President Barack Obama.

The Raptors of Cadet Squadron 22 were greeted by hundreds of thousands of spectators as they merged onto the 1.5-mile parade route, joining the divisions of the other service branches as they all stepped in uniform military fashion.

"I am truly thankful and blessed to have this opportunity to help represent the Air Force and the Academy during such an historic event," said Cadet 1st Class Alyssa Manwaring, a native of Lebanon, Ohio.

All five military service branches provided ceremonial support to the parade. Three colonels and one cadet led the command contingent of the Air Force's division in the parade, representing the active-duty force, the Reserve, the Air National Guard and the cadet corps.

Led by Cadet 1st Class Erin Doran of Brunswick, Ohio, the CS 22 formed up behind the U.S. Air Force Band and represented the cadet corps.

"It's an honor to march in the inaugural parade," said Cadet 3rd Class Evan Richter, of Santa Rosa, Calif. "Every opportunity is such a blessing."

"I'm really thrilled to be here," said Cadet 3rd Class Jahan Rafie, from Keystone, Colo. "It's a lot of fun. I was here my sophomore year of high school, and coming back, it's still beautiful, still amazing."

Lt. Col. Brande Walton, the air officer commanding for the squadron, said that her most valuable memory of the parade was getting to share this experience with the cadets.

"Just watching them experience it as well was very rewarding to me," she said.

CS 22 sat behind Obama while he gave his graduation speech to the Class of 2012 in May. It was the second-straight year they were selected as the Air Force Academy's outstanding cadet squadron.

"It has been very exciting to be in the number one squadron the past two years," said Cadet 1st Class Evan Boone of Denton, Texas. "Marching in the inauguration parade is a great reward for all of us who have worked so hard these last couple of years."

The U.S. armed services have been a part of the presidential inauguration since George Washington was sworn into office in 1789. Historically, the earliest parades served as military escorts for incoming presidents to the swearing-in ceremony.

"Thank you for volunteering. Thank you for stepping up. Thank you for keeping us strong. Thank you for always making us proud," Obama said during the Commander in Chief's Ball. "I have no greater honor than being your commander in chief."

(Information compiled from American Forces Press Service and staff reports.)