Class of 2018 finishes BCT with Acceptance Day Parade

The Class of 2018 joined the ranks of the Cadet Wing Aug. 5, when basic cadets transitioned to Cadets 4th Class or “doolies” during the Acceptance Parade at the Academy’s Stillman Field. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bill Evans)

The Class of 2018 joined the ranks of the Cadet Wing Aug. 5, when basic cadets transitioned to Cadets 4th Class or “doolies” during the Acceptance Parade at the Academy’s Stillman Field. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bill Evans)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Class of 2018 joined the ranks of the Cadet Wing this morning, when basic cadets transitioned to Cadets 4th Class or "doolies" during the Acceptance Parade at the Academy's Stillman Field.

One thousand one hundred and forty-seven basics completed five weeks of mental and physical training, where many had their first military experiences.

"This is fulfilling a lifelong dream," said Cadet 4th Class Natalee Dueber, Demons squadron. "My dad is an '82 grad so this has been what I've wanted since I was seven. I tried to embrace basic training for what it was and the outcome has been so much greater than the little obstacles along the way."

The first three weeks of basic training were held in the cadet area, where basics attended briefings, learned to march, worked their bodies, and were constantly tested.

"They break you down to build you back up," Dueber said. "We keep our personalities, but we've been molded into something everlasting. We will go through so many tribulations together [at the Academy] that wouldn't otherwise be possible."

The second half of BCT, or Second Beast, was held in Jacks Valley. In a mock deployed environment, the basics push tested physical limits with challenges while allowing the basics room to grow.

"BCT has been a lot more physical but mentally easier because of going to [the prep school]," said Cadet 4th Matthew Evans. "I have become more of a leader because I already knew things [about the military] and was looked up to."

Before leaving Jacks Valley, the basics competed in a pugil stick competition to decide who would leave with the title of Big Bad Basic.

"This experience was physically and mentally challenging, but has made me a better person," said Cadet 4th Class Santo Coppola, Executioners squadron and male Big Bad Basic. "I felt focused and ready to get the job done."

Cadet 4th Class Maggie Borngesser, Demons squadron, kept up a tradition of a female basketball player winning Big Bad Basic.

"It was challenging but rewarding," Borngesser said. "I learned that I could push myself."

As the cadet wing prepares for the start of fall semester, doolies can now look at basic training from a different perspective.

"Overall, I liked BCT," said Cadet 4th Class Colin Culver, Hellcats squadron. "It is a good way to take a huge group of strangers, put them through challenges, and have them become a family quickly. I think I've become less judgmental, more tolerant, and have expanded my horizons from what I'd seen every day."