Remembering Inprocessing: Day 1 included saying 'goodbye'

Basic cadets take their first steps into their Air Force careers as they leave Doolittle Hall and cross over the Memorial Bridge during cadet inprocessing June 25 at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Basic cadets take their first steps into their Air Force careers as they leave Doolittle Hall and cross over the Memorial Bridge during cadet inprocessing June 25 at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- June 25, 2009, marked the beginning for more than 1,300 new cadets of the Class of 2013. 

The beginning of Basic Cadet Training is an enormous shift for the new members of the Long Blue Line, and the impact was visible on all of their faces. Expressions showed anxious anticipation, hope and a fear of the unknown. The same emotions, evident in the faces of the incoming cadets, were visible in the tears of their families as they said goodbye. 

Inprocessing day was not only a commencement, but a conclusion of a past full of youthful memories. One last goodbye, and the parting was final when each of the appointees made his or her way up the stairs in Doolittle Hall to complete administrative work. 

While the appointees were occupied with the first steps of the cadet transformation, parents visited booths and exhibitions from the falconry club, cadet banks, yearbook staff, the Association of Graduates and other organizations around the Air Force Academy. 

"When I first got here, I thought, 'wow, this is pretty easy,'" said Basic Cadet Mike Leland. "After 10 minutes, I knew this was going to be one of the toughest things I've ever done." 

In addition to being practical, 2013's beginning was also symbolic as the civilians crossed over the Memorial Bridge from their previous lives to their new commitment in service to the United States. A representative from 2013's legacy Class of 1973 greeted all new basic cadets at this milestone to remind them of their newly claimed heritage and the sacrifices of those that have gone before them, while also imparting words of wisdom and encouragement. 

Silence ruled their walk up Heritage Trail to the awaiting buses that would give the basics a ride to the Cadet Area. This gave the new basic cadets one last moment to reflect on their decisions and prepare mentally for the next 38 days of training. 

"This is going to be one heck of a ride," said Basic Cadet Francis Marges.