Jacks Valley ready to roll out welcome mat
By Ann Patton , Academy Spirit staff writer
/ Published July 09, 2009
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- For now, it's peace and quiet in Jacks Valley.
Not for long.
Come July 14, some 1,345 basic cadets march out for "Second Beast," the second half of Basic Cadet Training, which began when they arrived June 25.
"We're definitely ready for them," said Tech. Sgt. Brian McCoy, superintendent of Jacks Valley.
New this year are three obstacles on the confidence course. Two other obstacles were replaced to comply with Air Force Instructions.
The 40-foot high "Tiltin' Hilton" obstacle course with its five platforms has also been replaced. The course tests teamwork and confidence as basics boost each other up to the next platform.
Jacks Valley now has three new Crocs, or mini-trucks, with upgraded safety features including roll bars and seat belts.
Sergeant McCoy said permanent facilities for dining and medical care are in the works for next year. Safety is foremost, and cadet cadres are fully trained in its procedures.
"This is the highest risk area, but it is the most monitored," Sergeant McCoy said.
Infrastructure is fully in place. All supply and command tents have electricity, and medical tents also have water supplies. Communications systems include Giant Voice, hand-held radios and cell phones for squadron leaders. Lightning warning systems on masts are tested and ready.
Jacks Valley will have a full-time fire station, equipped with a brush truck. Medical components will have a medically equipped truck and triage area with a physician on duty 24/7.
Sergeant McCoy said the majority of medical cases involve dehydration.
As basic cadets enter Jacks Valley, they line up and pick up such equipment as sleeping bags, tents, bug repellent and hand sanitizers. Equipment required for exercises and obstacle courses will be issued on those sites.
Sergeant McCoy said not many on the Academy are aware just how busy Jacks Valley is.
"We are busy year round," he said. "Seven thousand people use it every year."
He praised the 10th Civil Engineer Squadron and their contractors for their contribution of thousands of hours.
"They gave us great support," he said.
Cadet 2nd Class Daniel Klimkowski has been leading a cadre of eight cadets getting different areas ready for the incoming basics.
"Everything's looking nice," he said. "We put a lot of work into it and want it to get used."
Cadet 1st Class Justin Fisk has also been working on readying Jacks, which included more mundane tasks as filling sandbags and pulling weeds.
"You name it, we've probably done it," he said.
The cadre also replaced several tents shredded during recent thunderstorms.
Cadet Fisk remembers little of his own training in Jacks Valley except training in the middle of the night and "that dusty smell."
Cadet Klimkowski remembers only setting up tents and his perceived enormity of the area. No more.
"It seems so small now," he said.