News>Feature - Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Air Force Academy
The A-10 Thunderbolt II, flown by Capt. Robert Swain, Class of '79, is seen on display at the Academy on Thunderbird Overlook. On Feb. 6, 1991, Swain shot down an Iraqi Bo-105C helicopter during combat operations over Iraq, recording the first-ever air-to-air kill by an A-10. (U.S. Air Force Photo)
Cadet 1st Class John Severski adjusts the controls in the KAFA studio Jan. 17, 1971. The Academy’s cadet-run radio station hit the airwaves just before 7 p.m. that day. The station is broadcast on 97.7 FM and is the voice of cadets in the Colorado Springs area and the world. (U.S. Air Force Academy McDermott Library Archives)
Released prisoners of war rejoice while returning to the U.S. during Operation Homecoming after being released from captivity Feb. 12, 1973. In all, 591 POWs were released -- including several Academy graduates. (U.S. Air Force Academy McDermott Library Archives)
KAFA host Cadet 2nd Class Nick Taormina of Cadet Squadron 3 can be heard on 97.7 FM 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Mondays. KAFA is the cadet-run radio station and the voice of cadets to the Colorado Springs area and the world, playing modern rock targeted to the cadet age-group, and offering special Academy programming including Falcon sports, live coverage of cadet inprocessing and graduation. (U.S. Air Force Academy McDermott Library Archives)
Maj. Gen. Irv Halter, the-then 19th Air Force commander, is briefed on the Gatling Gun at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., in February 2007. The general, an Academy Class of '77 graduate and prior Academy vice superintendent, is the only major general in any service academy's history to serve as vice superintendent. (Air Force photo)
Then-1st Lt. Roni Yadlin, Class of '09, takes the ball down the field at the University of Oxford, England, during an Oxford versus Bedforshire match. Yadlin was a member of the Womens Blues, the University of Oxford’s women’s football team while she attended Oxford on the on the Holaday Scholarship. Yadlin was also on the Academy women's soccer (football) team. (Courtesy of Capt. Roni Yadlin)
by Steven Simon
Academy Development and Alumni Program
1/10/2014 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The U.S. Air Force Academy will celebrate a momentous milestone next month -- its 60th anniversary.
To celebrate this accomplishment, we've researched Academy history and identified dates and events that tell our story. This will be "history with a twist"-- instead of listing these events in chronological order, these milestones will be presented by calendar date, Jan.1-- Dec. 31.
Continuing through the year, we will highlight significant Academy events, landmarks and accomplishments taking place during the current week in history in the Academy Spirit, online at www.usafa.af.mil and via our Academy Facebook site, www.facebook.com/USAFA.Official. This will include achievements by our graduates and historic events that shaped the Academy.
These dates will include the most significant event -- the Academy's April 1, 1954 founding -- and many obscure dates as well. We've included several notable recent events such as Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, our first female superintendent, taking the reins in August 2013.
Not all events are somber or dry: included on our list will be Maj. Gen. James E. Briggs, the Academy's second superintendent, appearing as a contestant on the "What's My Line?" gameshow in 1958, and the 2002 appearance of cadets on the "Late Show with David Letterman" to deliver the "Top 10 reasons I came to the Air Force Academy." Reason No. 5? Free socks.
Meredith Harlow, the Academy Artifacts director, will provide photos to illustrate our list, but please call the number below if you have an interesting photo or piece of Academy history to share.
Our research for this project continues and we hope to capture as much of our history as possible and continue to add events to our list throughout the year. Some Academy areas are underrepresented so we invite those with ideas or dates to 333-8827.
Happy 60th Anniversary to the Academy. We hope you enjoy this feature.
USAFA historical accomplishments
· Jan. 1, 1956 -- Buck Shaw is hired as the Academy's first football head coach. He coached at Air Force for two seasons and also in the National Football League. Shaw was the San Francisco 49ers first head coach and also coached the Philadelphia Eagles. The Academy's athletic director, Col. Robert Whitlow, coached Air Force during the inaugural 1955 season.
· Jan. 1, 1975 -- The first Cadet Wing sergeant major, Chief Master Sgt. Lawrence Garrett, is succeeded by Chief Master Sgt. Edwin Bell.
· Jan. 1, 1978 -- Bill Parcells begins his tenure as Academy head football coach. He left after one season to win two SuperBowls in 19 years as an NFL head coach.
· Jan. 1, 1979 -- The Cadet Drum and Bugle Corps marches in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
· Jan. 1, 2004 -- The U.S. Air Force Academy Band makes its first appearance in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., to commemorate the Academy's 50th anniversary.
· Jan. 2, 1973 -- Secretary of defense Melvin Laird directs service secretaries to change their chapel attendance regulations, ending compulsory attendance for cadets. In December 1972, the Supreme Court declined to review the Court of Appeals ruling that mandatory chapel attendance at the three service academies is unconstitutional.
· Jan.2, 2013 -- The Wings of Blue Air Force Parachute Team wins 46 medals and sets five national collegiate records at the National Collegiate Parachute Competition in Arizona. Wings of Blue skydivers took home 13 gold, 18 silver and 15 bronze medals at the competition, held from Dec. 2, 2012 - Jan. 2.
· Jan. 3, 2008 -- 2nd Lieutenant Brandon Dues, Class of '07, receives the 2007 Cadet of the Year award at a Pentagon ceremony. The Air Force-level award recognizes the most outstanding cadet in an Air Force commissioning program. General Duncan McNabb, the vice chief of staff of the Air Force and a Class of '74 graduate, presented the award.
· Jan. 5, 1959 -- The Academy Library is officially dedicated.
· Jan. 5, 1967 -- The Col. James Jabara Award for Airmanship is established. Each year, this award goes to an Academy graduate, living or deceased, whose actions associated with an aerospace vehicle set them apart from their contemporaries.
· Jan. 6, 1958 -- A two-acre 1,150-ton roof of Mitchell Hall is raised via hydraulic jacks more than 24 feet onto 16 supporting columns.
· Jan. 7, 1956 -- The Academy fencing team is formed under coach Capt. Richard Bowman.
· Jan. 7, 2004 -- The first phase of the Academy Officer Development System starts with a series of briefings. ODS is a four-year program to educate and train cadets to become leaders.
· Jan. 8, 1968 -- Flight training takes place at the Academy for the first time with the maiden flight in a Cessna T-41C.
· Jan. 9, 1986 -- Falcon football coach Fisher Deberry is named the major college football coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association. He led the team to a 12-1 record and a No. 5 ranking in the United Press post-season national poll, an Academy record high finish.
· Jan. 10, 1968 -- The National Collegiate Athletic Association authorizes freshmen to compete in all intercollegiate varsity sporting events with the exception of football and basketball. The Academy makes these changes to its programs.
· Jan. 12, 1978 -- Entertainer Bob Hope is presented the 1977 Thomas D. White Award. The award, established in 1962, is given annually to a U.S. citizen who has contributed significantly to national defense.
· Jan. 13, 1954 -- The House Armed Services Committee hears testimony on a bill to establish a U.S. Air Force academy.
· Jan. 13 1968 -- Air Force basketball plays Navy for the first time, beating the Midshipmen 98-88 in Annapolis, Md.
· Jan. 13, 1976 -- Jacqueline Olivia Ware becomes the first female cadet candidate to enter the Academy Preparatory School.
· Jan. 13, 1989 -- Construction on the Academy's parachuting ground training facility is completed. The facility becomes the home for all Academy parachute training.
· Jan. 13, 1993 -- Susan Helms, Class of '80, becomes the first female Academy graduate to fly in space as a member of the Endeavor crew.
· Jan. 15, 2009 -- Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, Class of '73, lands U.S. Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River, New York, N.Y. He's awarded the Academy's 2009 Colonel James Jabara Award for Airmanship.
· Jan. 16, 2004 -- A new air traffic control tower opens at the Academy airfield. The tower, built between two runways, replaced two towers located on opposite sides of the runway.
· Jan. 17, 1959 -- The first Capehart housing unit is occupied in Douglass Valley.
· Jan. 17, 2004 -- Jeff Heidmous, Class of '77, is inducted into the National Water Polo Hall of Fame in St. Louis. Heidmous played water polo at the Academy and is currently the head coach.
· Jan. 18, 2007 -- PBS documentarian Ken Burns discusses his film "The War" in Arnold Hall. The seven-part, 14-and-a-half hour documentary on World War II, co-produced by Lynn Novick, debuted on PBS in September 2007.
· Jan. 25, 1956 -- Brigadier General "Billy" Mitchell testifies on Capitol Hill, saying it was "most essential . . . to have an air academy to form a basis for the permanent backbone of your air service and to attend to the . . . organizational part of it, very much in the same way that West Point does for the Army, or the Naval Academy for the Navy."
· Feb. 1, 1990 -- The Academy's Cadet Chorale performs for President George Bush and Congress.
· Feb. 3, 1995 -- Eileen Collins, former Academy math assistant professor and T-41 instructor pilot, becomes the first female astronaut to pilot a space shuttle as a member of the Discovery crew on mission STS-63.
· Feb. 4, 2008 -- Randy Spetman, Class of '76, is hired by Florida State University as its athletics director. Previously, he had been the athletics director for the Academy and Utah State.
· Feb. 5, 1980 -- The Academy board approves a test Stop-Out program for third classmen indented to help control attrition. Participants resigned and were in a non-pay status for one year. The program was discontinued in January 1993.
· Feb. 5, 2006 -- Bryce Fisher, Class of '99, plays in the NFL's Super Bowl XL for the Seattle Seahawks, who lost to Pittsburgh, 21-10. He was the second Academy graduate to play in a Super Bowl, following Chad Hennings, Class of '88.
· Feb. 6, 1957 -- The men's basketball team defeats Colorado College 104-53, reaching the 100-point mark for the first time in Academy history.
· Feb. 6, 1978 -- More than 1,000 cadets are seen on sick-call, suffering from A/USSR/77 influenza. Classes are canceled for three days.
· Feb. 6, 1991 -- Flying an A-10 Thunderbolt II, Capt. Robert Swain, Class of '79, shoots down an Iraqi Bo-105C helicopter during combat operations over Iraq. This is the first A-10 kill. The aircraft Swain flew when recording his kill has been on display at the Academy, near the airfield, since 2002.
· Feb. 6, 2005 -- The Academy Cadet Chorale teams-up with the Naval Academy Glee Club, West Point Choir, and the Coast Guard Academy to perform the national anthem at Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Fla. This is the first time the four academies have performed together since President Richard Nixon's 1973 inauguration ceremony.
· Feb. 6, 2012 -- President Barack Obama nominates Janet Wolfenbarger, Class of '80, for promotion to general, making her the Air Force's first female four-star general. She received her third star in December 2009 and became the Air Force's highest ranking woman in January 2010.
· Feb. 7, 1966 -- The first contract in the $40 million expansion program is awarded to construct a new dormitory, which would become Sijan Hall in 1976, to accommodate the increase in the size of the Cadet Wing to 4,417 cadets.
· Feb. 7, 1997 -- Space for the Band of the Rockies is completed at Peterson Air Force Base. On July 1, 1993, the U.S. Air Force Academy Band had been administratively moved to Air Force Space Command and renamed the Band of the Rockies.
· Feb. 7, 2003 -- H.T. Johnson, Class of 1959, is directed by President George W. Bush to assume the duties of acting secretary of the Navy.
· Feb. 7, 1976 -- A large mural portraying the history of the Academy site is dedicated in the Arnold Hall Ballroom. The dedication ceremony was a highlight of the Academy's celebration of America's Bicentennial and Colorado's Centennial.
· Feb. 8, 2012 -- Dave Pilipovich is announced as the men's basketball head coach and named permanent head coach March 3, 2012.
· Feb. 9, 2006 -- The Air Force releases a revised version of its religious guidelines, its latest step in a process started after a review at the Academy indicated a need for additional guidance.
· Feb. 11, 2004 -- Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden speaks at the Academy as a guest speaker at the National Character and Leadership Symposium.
· Feb. 11, 1959 -- The Academy Board approves the creation of a philosophy course to be taught during the cadet's junior) year.
· Feb. 11, 2012 -- The Air Force basketball program takes part a banner-unveiling ceremony during halftime at a game against Boise State. The banners honors two of the program's all-time greats, Bob Beckel, Class of '59, and Cliff Parsons, Class of '69. Both players wore jersey number 34.
· Feb. 12, 1973 -- The release of prisoners of war from southeast Asia begins in Hanoi, Vietnam, and includes several Academy graduates. Operation Homecoming continues until March 29, 1973, when all 591 American prisoners were released and returned to the U.S.
· Feb. 13, 1989 -- KAFA, the cadet radio station on 97.7 FM in Colorado Springs, returns to the air after a long absence. KAFA is the voice of cadets to the Colorado Springs area and the world, playing new modern rock, targeted to the cadet age group, and offering special Academy programming including Falcon sports, live coverage of cadet inprocessing and graduation, basic cadet training updates and more. The station supports many cadet activities with the KAFA Road Show, providing live DJ entertainment for events like Ring Dance, Valentines ball and football tailgates.
· Feb. 13, 1980 -- Capt. Steven Simon, Class of '77, a member of the Lake Placid Olympic Winter Games Torch Relay Team, participates in the Lake Placid Olympics Opening Ceremonies. He represented Wyoming (where he was stationed) as one of only 52 runners selected to carry the torch on the 1,000-mile relay and take part in all ceremonies during the Games.
· Feb. 15, 1961 -- The crash of a Boeing 707 in Brussels takes the lives of 73 persons, including the entire U.S. Figure Skating Team. Cadet Fourth Class William Hickox, Class of '64, and his sister Laurie, were among those killed. They were flying to the World Figure Skating Championships in Prague, Czech Republic, to compete in the pairs competition.
· Feb. 16, 2002 -- Legendary blues artist B.B. King performs at Arnold Hall.
· Feb. 16, 2006 -- The Academy's vice superintendent, Irv Halter, Class of '77, pins on his second star, making him the only major general to serve as vice superintendent in Academy history.
· Feb. 17, 2004 -- Janet Therianos, Class of '80, is nominated for promotion to brigadier general, making her the first female Academy graduate selected for promotion to flag officer rank.
· Feb. 17, 2004 -- Construction begins on the Cadet Area protective perimeter fence. It's the first phase of an Academy plan to install approximately 8,000 feet of fencing in response to the 9/11 attacks and the heightened security requirements that followed.
· Feb. 18, 1954 -- The Senate Armed Services Committee begins hearings on a bill to establish a U.S. Air Force Academy.
· Feb. 20, 2005 -- The Academy's Cadet Chorale sings the National Anthem at the National Basketball Association All-Star Game in Denver.
· Feb. 20, 2005 -- Fred Gregory, Class of '64, begins serving as the acting NASA Administrator. He served as NASA's deputy director Aug. 12, 2002 until Nov. 4, 2005. Gregory was NASA's first African-American deputy administrator.
· Feb. 21, 1981 -- Brig. Gen. Robert D. Beckel, Class of '59, becomes the first Academy graduate to serve as commandant of cadets.
· Feb. 21, 1981 -- Brig. Gen. Robert D. Beckel, Class of '59, becomes the first Academy graduate to serve as commandant of cadets.
· Feb. 22, 1957 -- Gen. Hubert R. Harmon, the Academy's first superintendent, passes away.
· Feb. 22, 1958 -- The first death of a member of the Cadet Wing occurs when Richard Davis, Class of '60, is killed in a private aircraft accident near Denver.
· Feb. 22, 2010 -- Country singer LeAnn Rimes performs at Arnold Hall.
· Feb. 22, 2013 -- Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe becomes the first recipient of the Academy's Character and Leadership Award. The award is given to a U.S. citizen whose life, professional career, and community service exemplify the finest examples of exemplary character and leadership in public service.
· Feb. 23, 1943 -- An Army Air Force C49J airliner crashes on Blodgett Peak, west of the Academy site.
· Feb. 24, 2007 -- Cadet 2nd Class Erik Mirandette, Class of '08, gives a speech at the National Character and Leadership Conference on the April 7, 2005 bombing that killed his brother in Cairo, Egypt.
· Feb. 24, 2009 -- Stubbs, the beloved 46-year-old horse who had been at the Academy Equestrian Center since 1980, passes away. A perfect employee, he worked six days a week, never took a vacation or filed a complaint of any sort.
· Feb. 25, 1988 -- A then-record crowd of 6,355 spectators at the Academy's Clune Arena watches the men's basketball team lose to Brigham Young University, 76-62.
· Feb. 25, 1999 -- The Exemplar Program begins. The Class of 2000 chooses Gen. Jimmy Doolittle as its exemplar and dedicates the Doolittle exhibit. The program continues to provide each Academy class with a role model.
· Feb. 26, 2013 -- Dr. Thomas Yechout, an Academy professor of aeronautics, receives a patent for his design of angled wing tips for aircraft, known as rakelets, designed to increase fuel efficiency.
· Feb. 27, 2007 -- Academy professor Dr. Yalin Lu receives the National Natural Science Award from President Hu Jintao in Beijing, China.
· Feb. 28, 1979 -- Head football coach Bill Parcells makes a surprise announcement that he's resigning to accept a job as an assistant coach for the New York Giants. Parcells would go on to win two SuperBowls as a head coach at the professional level, both with the Giants.
· Feb. 28, 2014 -- The Academy concludes its 2014 National Character and Leadership Symposium. This annual symposium is one of the nation's premier symposiums in the field of character and leadership development, and brings together distinguished scholars, military leaders, corporate executives, world-class athletes and others to explore a character-related theme. This year's theme: Overcoming Conflict: Individual Stories, Global Impact.
· March 1, 1962 -- The Thomas D. White Award is established by the Air Force Academy. The award, presented annually to a U.S. citizen who has contributed significantly to the national defense of the U.S., is named in honor of Gen. Thomas Dresser White, former Air Force chief of staff.
· March 1, 1996 -- Col. Randy Spetman, Class of '76, becomes the first Academy graduate to serve as athletic director.
· March 1, 2004 -- Air Force men's basketball defeats San Diego State 61-49 in Clune Arena to win its first Mountain West Conference title, and its first conference championship in any league.
· March 1, 2012 -- The Academy's National Resources Office wins the 2011 National Military Conservation Partner Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The award was created in 2004 and acknowledges a military installation for outstanding accomplishment in promoting conservation on military lands.
· March 2, 1964 -- The Academy begins closed circuit television classes in mathematics for Academy Airmen and their dependents.
· March 2, 1965 -- 1st Lt. Hayden Lockhart, Class of '61, flying an F-100, is shot down and captured, becoming the first Academy graduate to be held a prisoner of war.
· March 2, 1967 -- The Academy Office of Information issues a press release stating the Cadet Honor Committee had completed hearings into honor violations originally reported on Feb. 24. The release said 46 cadets had resigned and left the Academy. After being criticized for secrecy after a 1965 honor incident, the Academy was praised for its candor regarding this incident.
· March 2, 1979 -- Ken Hatfield becomes the fourth head football coach in Air Force history. He hired Fisher DeBerry as his quarterback coach and later offensive coordinator, and the pair instituted the option offense which gave the team great success.
· March 3, 1964 -- President Lyndon Johnson signs Public Law 88-276, authorizing the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Military Academy to expand to the Naval Academy's strength. The Air Force Cadet Wing soon grows from 2,529 to 4,417.
· March 3, 2012 -- Dave Pilipovich is named permanent head coach of the men's basketball team.
· March 4, 1949 -- James Forrestal, the Secretary of Defense, establishes the Service Academy Board to study U.S. service academies and make recommendations.
· March 4, 1976 -- Capt. Lance P. Sijan, Class of '65, becomes the first and so far only graduate to be awarded the Medal of Honor. President Gerald Ford presented the award to Captain Sijan's parents at a White House ceremony.
· March 4, 2004 -- 2nd Lt. Christopher Ayoub, Class of '03, receives the 2003 Cadet of the Year award at a Pentagon ceremony. The Air Force-level award recognizes the most outstanding cadet in an Air Force commissioning program. He's the first Academy graduate to win the award, established in 2000.
· March 5, 1976 -- The U.S. Comptroller General publishes its 98-page report "Student Attrition at the Five Federal Service Academies."
· March 7, 1960 -- The men's basketball team makes the Academy's first appearance in the NCAA basketball tournament, losing 69-63 to DePaul. Only 25 teams made the tournament during that time.
· March 7, 1967 -- The Academy hospital receives the Outstanding Unit Citation.
· March 7, 1986 -- The Air Force Academy Band opens for entertainer and impressionist Rich Little in Arnold Hall.
· March 7, 1993 -- The U.S. Air Force Academy Band performs with guest conductor General Major Nikolaj Mikhailovich Mikhailov, chief of Military Bands of the Russian Federation.
· March 8, 1954 -- The U. S. Senate passes a bill to establish an Air Force Academy.
· March 8, 2004 -- Nick Welch, Class of '07, wins the Mountain West Conference coplayer of the year award. Also, Air Force head coach Joe Scott was named Coach of the Year.
· March 8, 2007 -- The FalconSAT-3 is launched aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., one of five deployed from the first-ever Secondary Payload Adapter Ring used with the current generation Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles.
· March 8, 2008 -- The Academy's Astronautics Department celebrates its 50th anniversary as the world's first undergraduate astronautical engineering program.
· March 8, 2010 -- Lt. Gen. Albert Patton Clark, the sixth Air Force Academy superintendent and president of the Friends of the Air Force Academy Library, dies.
· March 9, 1954 -- Nathaniel Owings submits a formal request to Secretary of the Air Force Harold Talbott requesting Skidmore Owings and Merrill be considered as architects-engineers for the Academy. They eventually won the contract.
· March 9, 1960 -- The second Air Force Academy Assembly begins. Gen. Lauris Norstad, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is the keynote speaker.
· March 10, 1992 -- Doolittle Hall, the Association of Graduates building, opens for partial use.
· March 10, 1994 -- Capt. Harold Waters, Class of '85, flies the mission for which he received the 1995 Colonel James Jabara Award for Airmanship. Waters recovered his RC-135 with 32 crewmembers aboard after catastrophic electrical failure occurred over the North Atlantic.
· March 10, 2010 -- 1st Lt. Roni Yadlin, Class of '09, plays on the University of Oxford soccer team as the Blues beat Bedfordshire to win the British collegiate national championship. Yadlin, who also played at Air Force, was at Oxford on a Holaday Scholarship, awarded annually to the top-ranking Academy graduate who competes for, but does not, win a Rhodes Scholarship.
· March 12, 1962 -- The men's basketball team makes the Academy's second appearance in the NCAA basketball tournament, losing 68-66 to Texas Tech. Only 25 teams made the tournament during that time.
· March 13, 2000 -- 2nd Lt. Shawna (Ng-A-Qui) Kimbrell, Class of '98, the first female African-American fighter pilot in the Air Force, becomes qualified in the F-16.
· March 14, 2004 -- The men's basketball team earns its first NCAA bid since 1962.
To submit a historical fact or achievement, call Steven Simon, the Academy's graduate and donor liaison. For more information, call 333-8827.