Saturday, July 14, 2012

BCT Field Day

After a long lapse, I'm back at the Academy. I picked up media staff for Basic Cadet Training (how fitting) so I'll be updating the blog with posts about 2nd BCT.

Today, the basics had field day. It's a four hour athletic competition between the different squadrons and one of the few fun days for the new basics. They concluded the day with a trip to the rodeo while their new cadre moved in. Tomorrow is Doolie Day Out and the march to Jack's Valley follows on Monday.

Two basics from Guts squadron compete in the relay

A basic from Hellcats gets a little motivation from her cadre in the tug of war

The Hellcats discuss strategy before the log relay

A basic from Demons is carried away after defeating the cadre in the sprint relay

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

USAFA Graduation

The iconic hat toss from a different angle

The most memorable and happiest time of a cadet's career, graduation is the step into the real Air Force. Earlier today, 1073 Firsties received their diplomas and a handshake from President Obama and officially commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants.

President Obama accepts the class gift; a painting of Air Force One and
an Academy athletic jacket
Graduation is the accumulation of four years of endless work and sacrifice. It represents the transition from a lowly cadet to an officer in the world's finest air force. Over 12,000 young men and women apply for acceptance each year and only a select few receive the opportunity to attend.

Each graduate receives a Bachelor of Science degree in a specific area of study. It certainly is quite an accomplishment that every cadet and family member should be proud of.

The weather started out beautiful in the morning. Warm temperatures and a slight breeze made for a comfortable graduation ceremony. As the day progressed, however, clouds moved in and it became a bit chilly in the upper levels. Thankfully the rain held off until after the Thunderbirds' show.

The family of Michael Paranka cheers as he receives his diploma
The commencement speakers rotate on a four year schedule. This year's speaker was the Honorable Barack Obama. Security was tight and limited movement but he was an excellent speaker and it was really cool to see the Commander in Chief interact with his new officers.

President Obama spoke for about 15 minutes and gave some inspiring words to the young officers. A transcript of the speech can be found here.

After his speech, Brigadier General Dana Born, Dean of Faculty, spoke a few words about the distinguished graduates. Distinguished graduates are the top 10% of the graduating class. Among them are those who finished at the top of their class academically, militarily, and athletically.

The entire ceremony lasts for a couple of hours and is concluded by an aerial demonstration from the Air Force's premiere demonstration team, the Thunderbirds. Photos are after the jump.

This will probably be my last post until Basic Training begins. I have the privilege of photographing second BCT and will be providing updates and photos throughout. Depending on whether anything cool happens while I am in Alaska for Ops, there may be a post or two beforehand.

The Air Force Thunderbirds in a four man formation

The Thunderbirds perform the "Calypso Pass"

The two single Thunderbirds cross each other in a daring move

Sunday, April 29, 2012

CV-22 Osprey

It's been a while since I posted so I thought I would treat you guys to a special set of photos. Yesterday to conclude a long day of "warrior-based" training missions, two CV-22 Osprey helicopters landed on the terrazzo. They are becoming widely used in Afghanistan and have a distinct advantage over traditional helicopters in that they can rotate their propellers and fly like a plane. Check them out!

Two Osprey were present for the flyover and static display.

Here, the Osprey displays it's plane like flight, used for high speed travel.

As it begins to land, the Osprey's propellers turn vertical and allow for it to maneuver like a helicopter

A senior airman provides overwatch as some families tour the Osprey

Just a different angle

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Zoomie Rugby

The #7 ranked Air Force rugby team took on #5 Utah today on the Terrazzo at the Air Force Academy. Air Force fell after two tough 40 minute halves.

Air Force celebrates after scoring a try

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Air Force vs Boston College

The Falcons take on the Boston College Eagles today in the first round of the Regional Championship for hockey. The Falcons took the 4th seed while the Eagles grabbed number one.

The game starts at 4 p.m. Eastern at the DCU Center in Worcester, Ma. I will be updating throughout with photos.

Go Air Force, beat the Eagles.

Update: The puck drops in ten minutes. The crowd is slim, mostly Boston College fans but we have a strong Air Force section with most of the parents. A lot of grads dispersed throughout. I'll be updating through my phone and I've never done this before so bear with me.

Update: Air Force is down 0-1 after the first period. BC is really playing well.

Mathis knocks down a BC player with a big hit.

The Falcons bring it in close but fail to convert.

Torf makes a save.

Period 2 went off to a good start. Air Force is playing well. They are starting to pressure the Eagles near the net.

Air Force played tough but couldn't pull off the win, falling to Boston College 0-2.

Torf has another save

Air Force fails to score on a close play.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Final Day of Recognition

Recognition ended smoothly and it certainly was great. The upperclassmen really kicked it up a notch in intensity but also kept it safe. The four degrees gave it their all and were exhausted but all relieved to finally be worth more than a pile of dirt. There are smiles all around.

The "Run to the Rock" begins as the seniors and freshmen march passed the chapel.

 The doolies begin the search for their charge up by the rock. The charge is a heavy railroad tie used during training and is painted by the freshmen before recognition. The upperclassmen hide it and the four degrees have to find it before running back up to the hill.

The freshmen begin their journey back to the hill where they will meet up with their squadrons.

CS-12's C4C Price is recognized and has his prop and wings pinned on. The pin on ceremony concludes recognition weekend with the four degrees earning the right to be upperclassmen. They choose an upperclassman who has made an impact on their life through four degree year.

To conclude recognition, the wing sits down for dinner Saturday night. The Commandant of Cadets, Brig. Gen. Clark grants them recognition privileges and they are now considered an equal part of the wing. It is tradition to have the four degrees sit at the head of the table for this dinner.

Recognition is now over and the freshmen now have less restrictions and rules to abide by. They are allowed to walk freely, they do not have to be at attention in the squadron or on the Terrazzo. They can wear their backpacks now and they are authorized to wear civilian clothes.

Congratulations once again to the class of 2015.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Recognition Day Two

Check out the first day if you haven't already: Day One

(0640) It's day two of recognition. The day began early with a basic wake up which includes surprising the four degrees by banging on their doors until they are dressed and out in the hallway. We had a reveille formation at 0530 and then breakfast followed. Currently, the four degrees are being marched back from Mitchell Hall to their squadrons and are preparing for the courses.

I'll still be taking photos all day so check back later to see the doolies in action.

Update (1120): The first half of the courses are done for the day and everyone is headed off to lunch. The two courses I was at today were the Academy Tour and the Leadership Reaction Course (LRC). The Tour is one of the most strenuous and physically challenging courses during recognition but the freshmen took it in stride.

The day began before sunrise.

During the Academy Tour, the doolies go to several monuments on the Terrazzo and meet upperclassmen who explain the significance while performing some exercises. Here, the cadre (berets) and the freshmen perform pushups in front of the class crests.

A doolie low crawls with her rifle and classmates.

Four degrees wait at the base of the Core Values Ramp to begin another station of the Academy Tour.

An upperclassman from Squadron 12 leads his freshmen in exercises before the start of the LRC.

 The LRC gives the freshmen a chance to use teamwork to solve different tasks. It's not strenuous and allows for them to have some rest and fun for once.

A classmate lends C4C Staab a hand in completing an obstacle.

Course Cadre C2C Mitchell debriefs the doolies on their obstacle.

Blindfolded, the doolies were tasked to take a rope and create a square within a time limit.

Update (2100): The second day is slowly winding down. Today included 3 tough courses along with training sessions between the courses. The freshmen looked pretty tired and are certainly ready to have recognition end. Below are the two other course. The first is "Chutes and Ladders," a circuit type course based on knowledge. If they are good with knowledge, the four degrees can rest but if they get a question wrong, they  will get to do exercises. The cool thing about this course is that everyone is paired up with someone from another squadron, so none of your friends are there to support you. You have to rely on your new teammates.

A doolie fireman carries his teammate.

A little pre-workout motivation by the upperclassmen.

A freshman low crawls through a push up tunnel created by her classmates.

After "Chutes and Ladders," we have the Assault Course. Based off the course during Basic Cadet Training, the A-Course is a difficult physical test of the freshmen's strength, will, and stamina. While the Academy Tour is usually the hardest course, I believe that this year, the A-Course takes the gold. The upperclassmen certainly put on a tough challenge for the freshmen.

A doolie displays his warrior ethos.

One of the exercises used throughout the course, a freshman bear crawls with his rifle to the next station.

A freshman with his rifle sprints alongside a cadre member during the Assault Course.

After the conclusion of the A-Course, the doolies were led to dinner and then back to the squad. Currently, they are experiencing "Theme Rooms." This is a secret held close to recognition so I won't be posting any photos.

Tomorrow is their last day. The run to the rock and prop and wings ceremony concludes recognition and begins a whole new life for the freshmen. I'll be sure to keep you updated.