By Ann Patton
Academy Spirit staff
It was only appropriate that basic cadets’ first meal in Mitchell Hall would be cold turkey.
Academy appointees for the Class of 2014 shed civilian clothes, high school ways of doing things and hair-in some cases, a lot of it-during inprocessing June 24.
“You will have a tremendous opportunity going to school here,” William “T” Thompson, director of the Association of Graduates, told the appointees as they started their journey along the Long Blue Line that day. Citing the accomplishments of Air Force Academy graduates, he added, “You are about to join a very elite group.”
At the same time, he reassured the appointees, “We know you can meet the challenges, or you wouldn’t be here.”
As of June 23, the Class of 2014 numbered 1,275, with 350 minorities, 291 females, 133 second-generation service academy cadets, and 51 cadets with prior enlisted service. The new class also includes 17 foreign students. The Academy received more than 11,000 applications for the class, up 1,730 from 2009.
Inside Doolittle Hall, appointees and their families and friends gathered information on various base support activities such as banking, postal service, parents’ clubs, chaplains and Web-based access to Basic Cadet Training activities. Appointees bid their goodbyes at the foot of the stairs inside Doolittle.
After what some cadets and graduates might consider the longest 15-minute bus ride of their life, appointees received instructions on standing at attention before mounting the Honor Ramp leading to the Terrazzo, where they turned in medical records and received immunizations, uniforms and room assignments. The next morning, the new class took their oath of allegiance.
Cadet 1st Class Daniel Liu of Cadet Squadron 14 remembers his own in-processing.
“I sat on the very first row on the bus, and I was the first on and the first off,” he recalled. “I didn’t realize the extent of what was to happen until I jumped into it.”
Cadet 1st Class Travis Adams of CS16 was excited to be at the Academy for his first day.
“It was time to fly, and it was very exciting,” he said and added it was the first time he was on his own but remembered asking himself if he’d made the right decision during the bus ride.
Appointees had their own reasons for coming to the Academy. For Rex Anderson from Los Angeles, the answer was straightforward.
“I want to be a pilot and an officer,” he said. To prepare for BCT, he went running at every opportunity.
For Diana Hock, a native of Shreveport, La., service academies intertwine with family life and friendships. Her brother is a cadet here, members of the family are in the Air Force, and she has a friend at West Point.
“I’m following in their footsteps,” she said. “If you want to be an Air Force officer, you might as well come to the Academy. I also definitely want to serve my country.”
John Tardieu from Grants Pass, Ore., has blues in the family as well as green. His sister is an Academy grad, and another sister is a West Point grad.
“It’s a great combination of serving my country and being in the military,” he said of wanting to be here.
He and his father, Jim Tardieu, camped and fished at Eleven Mile Reservoir and Spinney Lake, topped off by a steak dinner the night before inprocessing. Mr. Tardieu added that his son’s grandfather, 86, flew B-24 Liberators during World War II.
“He’s so proud of John,” Mr. Tardieu said.
Tina Clark, whose son, Cody, was already on his way to the Terrazzo, said he “wants to do it all,” which includes learning to fly and jumping out of planes.
“He’s a go-getter and just an overall good kid,” she said.
While in high school, he performed extensive volunteer work and “played every sport you can think of,” Mrs. Clark said.
Coming to the Academy was strictly personal for Nicholas Salter, a Dover, Del., native. Although his father is a master sergeant, “I chose it on my own,” he said. With a private pilot’s license in hand, he hopes be involved with Academy aviation.
Mary Deardorf, a hair stylist in Sijan Hall, said inprocessing is always a fun day as barbers clip away at appointees’ locks.
“We always tell them, ‘You’re going to feel 10 pounds lighter and 10 degrees cooler.'”
Basic Cadets march to Jacks Valley July 11 for two weeks of field training and will return July 24. Classes start Aug. 5.