Cadets 1st Class Braylon Gurnell, Patrick Hennessey, Alexander Hess and Kenneth Lamendola swear their oaths of office during a graduation ceremony at the Air Force Academy Dec. 14, 2011. The four are the final additions to the Academy's Class of 2011, which now numbers 1,035. (U.S. Air Force photo/Raymond McCoy)
Retired Brig. Gen. Ruben Cubero holds one of the second lieutenant bars presented to graduating cadets from the Class of 1961 during a ceremony at the Air Force Academy Dec. 14, 2011. The Class of '61 is the legacy class for the Class of 2011. Cubero is a former Academy dean of the faculty. (U.S. Air Force photo/Raymond McCoy)
Air Force Academy Athletics Director Dr. Hans Mueh delivers the commencement address at a graduation ceremony for four Class of 2011 graduates in Arnold Hall Dec. 14, 2011. Mueh, a 1966 Academy graduate, delivered the commencement in lieu of Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, who could not attend. (U.S. Air Force photo/Raymond McCoy)
Brig. Gen. Richard Clark, left, speaks with members of newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Braylon Gurnell's family after a graduation ceremony at the Air Force Academy Dec. 14, 2011. Gurnell, a Houston native, was one of four cadets to graduate and earn their commissions, raising the total number of Air Force Academy graduates to 43,915. Clark is the Academy's commandant of cadets. (U.S. Air Force photo/Elizabeth Andrews)
12/14/2011 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Four cadets joined the Air Force Academy's Class of 2011 Dec. 14 during a graduation ceremony in Arnold Hall.
Joining the Long Blue Line were 2nd Lts. Kenneth Lamendola, Braylon Gurnell, Patrick Hennessey and Alexander Hess.
Athletics Director Dr. Hans Mueh delivered the commencement address, filling in for Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, who could not attend the ceremony.
Mueh offered the graduates four pieces of advice: First, he said, never look back; always look forward. Second, do what you love.
"You'll have jobs you don't want to do forever, but do them to the best of your ability," he said.
Third, Mueh advised the graduates to take some risks. Finally, he told them to never compromise their integrity.
"It's harder to pull off in the big, bad world out there, but always take the high road," he said.
Mueh, along with Dean of the Faculty Brig. Gen. Dana Born and Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Rich Clark, presented diplomas to the graduates. Clark administered the oath of office and awarded the graduates their commissions.
Retired Brig. Gen. Ruben Cubero, a former dean of the faculty representing the Class of 1961, also spoke at the commencement.
"I would have worn my uniform, but there's a phenomenon called 'closet shrinkage,'" Cubero joked.
He went on to present the graduates with their first set of second lieutenant bars, engraved with "61-11" to represent the bond between the graduating classes.
"This gift is symbolic of your progress through the ranks, but more importantly, it's symbolic of the solidarity of all the classes to the Oath of Office," he said. "We wish you the very best and godspeed."
The graduation brings the Class of 2011's total number to 1,035 and the Academy's total number of graduates to 43,915.
1/2/2012 11:14:46 PM ET Hi RexThanks for the info. It's great that the Academy let them do that.
Ben Maltz '77, Boston
12/29/2011 12:00:47 PM ET It used to be that some cadets with solid MOM were given an extra semester to take a few additonal courses to bring their cumulative GPA above 2.0 so they could graduate and be commissioned. We had a guy doing that from '74 in my cadet squadron back in the day. Maybe that is it
Rex Williams '77, Eglin AFB FL
12/28/2011 2:37:55 PM ET Why did these Cadets graduate late