News>Feature - Class of '14 rolls out to Jacks Valley
Cadets with the Class of 2014 march along an unpaved road in Jacks Valley at the Air Force Academy July 11, 2010. The class has adopted the motto "Like a Machine" in the three weeks since inprocessing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bill Evans)
Basic Cadet Elizabeth Hicks navigates the assault course in Jacks Valley July 12, 2010. Basic cadets spend about two weeks in Jacks Valley learning how to work as a team to conduct military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)
by Staff Sgt. Don Branum
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
7/13/2010 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- A journey of 4½ miles begins with two words: "Forward, HARCH!"
With those words, spoken July 11 at 6:45 a.m., the Class of 2014 began its transition from the first phase of Basic Cadet Training to "Second Beast," which entails about three weeks of military training and team-building.
Basic cadets, led by Vice Superintendent Col. Tamra Rank, 10th Air Base Wing Commander Col. Rick LoCastro and other senior leaders, marched east along Academy Drive, where excited families held signs with slogans such as "I love you, munchkin!"
"Mama, mama, look at me! Look what the Air Force done to me!" one squadron jodied as it passed the families, some of whom traveled from as far as Peachtree, Ga., and Washington, D.C., to see their cadets.
A local couple, Mark and Carrie Hachtel, traveled from Highlands Ranch and arrived a little before 7 a.m. to get a good spot near "Diamond Lil," the Academy's B-52 static exhibit, and to see their son, Basic Cadet Adam Hachtel.
"We talked to him yesterday," Mr. Hachtel said. "Things are going well for him right now. Just by being here, his future is bright, and we're proud of him."
Dr. Regina Lewis said she believes her son, Basic Cadet Charles Edward Lewis III, has broken negative stereotypes of African-American males in education by joining the Long Blue Line. She came out to the Academy Sunday morning along with Cadet Lewis' stepfather, Army Sgt. Justin Lawrence.
"Keep your head up, stay strong and know we all love you at home," said Sergeant Lawrence, who is stationed at Fort Carson. "We can't wait to see you."
Cadet Lewis' father was killed in a helicopter accident in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2001, said Dr. Lewis, an associate dean with the Division of Communications, Humanities and Technical Studies at Pikes Peak Community College.
"He's dedicated being here to his dad," she added.
The Class of 2014 has dedication in abundance, along with strong motivation, said Cadet 2nd Class Michael Harrison, a cadet cadre instructor with Charlie Flight.
"I like what I see so far," Cadet Harrison said. "We're working on physical fitness, but I like the level of motivation and discipline. They show a strong desire to be here."
The march to Jacks Valley ends somewhere around step number 11,600. In the upcoming weeks, basic cadets will receive more military training, Cadet Harrison explained. The cadre will expose basics to a field environment: the basics set up their own tents shortly after arriving in Jacks Valley and will call those tents home throughout their field training. Second Beast also provides a greater focus on teamwork and physical fitness as well as exposure to combat first aid.
At the end of Second Beast, the cadets will march back to the Cadet Area. A few days later, they will retake their oaths of allegiance and officially become freshmen. In its journey along the Long Blue Line, the Class of 2014 will have taken its first step.
7/16/2010 11:55:31 AM ET Mike during my 25 years in uniform I never worked with an Academy Graduate Lt who saw themselves as less then the words you chose to describe them with despite the fact none of them were willing to listen to any advice from 6 and 7 decades of SNCO experience who were there specifically to help them learn how to be officers instead of cadets. I know not all academy grads are that bad. I know the gross majority get over it even, if they start that bad. Doesn't change the reality of my experience with fresh graduates one bit.
7/16/2010 10:45:58 AM ET PB - True American heroes to be sure. However 2 individuals out of almost 10,000 graduates since 9/11 seems to prove my point.
7/15/2010 7:52:00 PM ET America's finest young men and women who attend the U.S. Air Force Academy get dirty everyday, it is they who teach the underclassmen who guide and mentor and mold them for and during their entire 4-yrs at the USAFA no matter what year they are in. America's Finest: The officers, the enlisted, the AOC's, and AMT's are only assisting the cadets. The cadets guide and mold their own into the finest 1,000 new 2Lt's every year
Mike, Colo Springs
7/15/2010 5:28:12 PM ET Sean, I'd suggest you say that to Lt Roslyn Schulte Class of 2007 or to Lt Joseph Helton also Class of 2007, but you can't. They're both dead killed by roadside bombs while they were outside the wire. And you can bet they got dirty while wearing a uniform.
7/15/2010 1:46:29 PM ET And for most of them this will be the last time they ever get dirty while wearing a uniform.
7/14/2010 11:51:28 PM ET Go Basic Cadet Mel Duran and Basic Cadet Z as well as all you other former preppies