Cadet 2nd Class Victoria Perkins, of Cadet Squadron 11, introduces an appointee to cadet life during inprocessing for the Class of 2016 on June 28. Approximately 1,050 basic cadets joined the Long Blue Line even as the Waldo Canyon fire burned to the south. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Elizabeth Andrews)
An appointee receives a haircut during inprocessing for the Class of 2016 on June 28. Approximately 1,050 basic cadets joined the Long Blue Line even as the Waldo Canyon fire burned to the south. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Elizabeth Andrews)
Appointees study about what it takes to succeed in the cadet environment during inprocessing for the Class of 2016 on June 28. Approximately 1,050 basic cadets joined the Long Blue Line even as the Waldo Canyon fire burned to the south. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Raymond McCoy)
Parents said their goodbyes to their newly appointed children during inprocessing for the Class of 2016 on June 28. Approximately 1,050 basic cadets joined the Long Blue Line even as the Waldo Canyon fire burned to the south. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Sarah Chambers)
7/6/2012 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Amidst housing evacuations, smoky skies and base closure due to the Waldo Canyon fire, the Academy pushed forward with their 2012 cadet inprocessing, as 1,035 appointees and their parents reported to the field house June 28, and the 2016 class embarked on their Air Force careers.
Col. Billy Walker, deputy director of Athletics, informed parents the Academy would monitor the fire throughout the day and relocate appointees to a three-mile site across the interstate if conditions worsened.
"I feel they'll do whatever they can to protect the cadets and the nation's estate," said Mark Lewis, a Sacramento native whose son will play football for the Academy this season. "I feel the kids are in good hands today."
Appointees clutched their backpacks, bid a brief farewell to their loved ones and headed off to join the long blue line of the military's finest, that is, the inprocessing line to start with.
For hours cadets stood at attention and took orders from upperclassmen cadets. They also received military essentials such as haircuts, uniforms as well as donated blood and met their cadre.
"It's sad to see him go but I know he'll come out a better man," Lewis said. "They recruited him about a year ago and he committed to the Academy very early so he seemed hungry for it. It's a different college life at the Academy but he's really wanted it and I think you have to want it in order to succeed."
The class of 2016 rode a bus to the cadet area for processing. After a brief reminder of the seven basic responses, the pace picked up as cadets shouted at appointees to get off the bus.
"The first shock and awe is when they get on the bus," said Cadet 1st Class Kristina Kemp who helped with the training. "It is our job to free the warrior spirit within them, instill courage and push them beyond their limit."
Each appointee stood at a 22 and half degree angle in line with their body, on paved footprints, as they were reminded of the big shoes they have to fill.
These shoes include heroic graduates dating back to 1959, such as Lt. Gen. Robert D. Beckel, Chesley Sullenberger and the late Air Force fighter pilot legend Capt. Lance Sijan.
Appointees stood firm in the 90 degree heat, their eyes locked forward, hands cuffed and arms straight, down at their sides.
"My mentality today is to get through it, be broken and let them start building me up," Basic Cadet Brian Otte of Spokane, Wash said.
Otte is a 19-year old reapplicant at the Academy, who has a strong desire to play golf here and said he's been ready for military life for quite some time.
"I've been wanting this for years," Otte said. "I want to join the military, serve and that's really got to be your foundation if you're going to last. We have world class professors here, and amazing opportunities to go to different parts of the world and help people. The list is endless and it's all worth it to me in the end."
Cadet 1st Class Joel Graley, the cadet in charge for inprocessing, said the main purpose for the training is to have basic cadets build a bond with their teammates.
"If you think you're in it for you, then you'll get to a point where you just want to quit and everyone wants to quit at some point," Graley said. "The focus is getting them to realize it's about their teammates, serving and ultimately breaking them down and building them back up."
Cadet 1st Class Jack Nelan said the best advice he can give appointees is to be confident but not arrogant.
"They have an important decision their first day because if they don't get off the bus, they fail," Nelan said. "We try to push them forward but they choose their attitude."
Women make up 23 percent of the 2016 class and 35 percent are of a minority.
Upcoming cadets attended a public swearing- in ceremony June 29 at the cadet chapel and will train rigorously for the next six weeks.
Upon completion of basic cadet training on Aug. 4, basics will begin classes with the rest of the Cadet Wing on Aug. 9.
7/8/2012 5:22:48 PM ET When did mirrored sunglasses become ok to wear This cadet is a great example for the new class.