Remembering Inprocessing: Footprints -- the first impression

A basic cadet learns basic responses during cadet inprocessing at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 25. Females comprise 20 percent of the Class of 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

A basic cadet learns basic responses during cadet inprocessing at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 25, 2009.

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- "Get off my bus!" 

It's the last command the Basic Cadets of 2013 heard before stepping into the next phase of their lives. 

Although many may have been relieved to get off the bus, they had no idea what was awaiting them. One basic expressed his relief to "finally get away from that bus," but little did he know what was to come. 

With 10 or more cadre awaiting their arrival, the yelling was nonstop. The "Footprints" cadre commanded each basic to drop his or her belongings and stand on a set of silver footprints. "Eyes forward, shoulders back, hands cupped at your side," shouted Cadet 1st Class Dan Fulcoly from Cadet Squadron 23. 

The basic cadets, though still new to military discipline, were expected to have mastered the skills they had learned a few minutes earlier on the bus ride. 

After introducing the cadre and explaining the history of the class colored footprints where the basics now stood, Cadet Fulcoly announced the enormous shoes the Class of 2013 must be prepared to fill as the newly appointed grey class. After introductions were complete, the cadre was ordered to "fall out and make corrections!" Cadre subsequently got in the face of each basic to correct his or her every fault in the position of attention. 

The overwhelming instructions, which helped teach Basics how to stand at attention,
a basic military skill that demonstrates discipline, also serves to overwhelm and force a stressful situation onto the future cadets. This puts the mental strength of every basic to the test, to prepare each for the rigors of Basic Cadet Training and the Academy life. 

The exposure to quick and demanding training under stress also sets the stage for important and common aspects of Academy life and four degree year. Much the same way as the long-held tradition of the bus ride and class colored footprints, the Class of 2013 will share not only these experiences with fellow classmates, but all Air Force Academy graduates.