New cadets arrive Thursday as Air Force Academy basic training begins

Air Force Academy cadets salute at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Aug. 31, 2013.


By TOM ROEDER | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) | Published: June 28, 2017

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Tribune News Service) — The Air Force Academy's class of 2021 will roll in Thursday with more than 1,200 "doolies" to refresh the school's ranks.

The freshmen, the vast majority straight out of high school, will experience a wild first day of college that upperclassmen have been readying for months. In mere hours, they'll go from "rainbows" in civilian clothes to doolies in uniform.

In between, they'll undergo medical checks, haircuts, get issued equipment and be sworn into the military in a tradition that dates back to the first Air Force cadets in the class of 1959.

"Basic cadet training runs June 29 through Aug. 8, and includes uniform and dorm inspections, marching drills, physical conditioning, and weapons training," the academy said in a news release.


It starts with a bus ride. The new students are politely ushered aboard a bus at the school's Doolittle Hall for a ride up to the cadet area. During the five-minute trip, they get their first taste of military discipline, traditionally delivered at volume by upperclassmen.

That ride kicks off the first half of basic training, conducted in the school dorms. The freshmen learn to march and get drilled on military values.

They also learn table manners and etiquette.

During the grueling training, the freshmen are forbidden to possess some of the most important symbols of teenage life, especially smart phones.

The second half of training takes the freshmen and their more senior trainers to Jacks Valley, on the academy's north side, where physical drills are mixed with combat lessons.

The freshmen will spend weeks there, living in tents and drilling dawn-to-dusk before they complete basic training Aug. 8.

The short training time is designed to give the freshmen everything they will need to function during their first year at the school.

"Additionally, basic cadets will receive lessons regarding first aid, honor and ethics, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Air Force's core values," the academy said.

©2017 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
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