Academy Class of '14 rolls out to Jacks Valley

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Don Branum
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
A journey of 4½ miles begins with two words: "Forward, HARCH!"

With those words, spoken July 11 at 6:45 a.m., the Class of 2014 began its transition from the first phase of Basic Cadet Training to "Second Beast," which entails about three weeks of military training and team-building.

Basic cadets, led by Vice Superintendent Col. Tamra Rank, 10th Air Base Wing Commander Col. Rick LoCastro and other senior leaders, marched east along Academy Drive, where excited families held signs with slogans such as "I love you, munchkin!"

"Mama, mama, look at me! Look what the Air Force done to me!" one squadron jodied as it passed the families, some of whom traveled from as far as Peachtree, Ga., and Washington, D.C., to see their cadets.

A local couple, Mark and Carrie Hachtel, traveled from Highlands Ranch, Colo., and arrived a little before 7 a.m. to get a good spot near "Diamond Lil," the Academy's B-52 static exhibit, and to see their son, Basic Cadet Adam Hachtel.

"We talked to him yesterday," Mr. Hachtel said. "Things are going well for him right now. Just by being here, his future is bright, and we're proud of him."

Dr. Regina Lewis said she believes her son, Basic Cadet Charles Edward Lewis III, has broken negative stereotypes of African-American males in education by joining the Long Blue Line. She came out to the Academy Sunday morning along with Cadet Lewis' stepfather, Army Sgt. Justin Lawrence.

"Keep your head up, stay strong and know we all love you at home," said Sergeant Lawrence, who is stationed at nearby Fort Carson. "We can't wait to see you."

Cadet Lewis' father was killed in a helicopter accident in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2001, said Dr. Lewis, an associate dean with the Division of Communications, Humanities and Technical Studies at Pikes Peak Community College.

"He's dedicated being here to his dad," she added.

The Class of 2014 has dedication in abundance, along with strong motivation, said Cadet 2nd Class Michael Harrison, a cadet cadre instructor with Charlie Flight.

"I like what I see so far," Cadet Harrison said. "We're working on physical fitness, but I like the level of motivation and discipline. They show a strong desire to be here."

The march to Jacks Valley ends somewhere around step number 11,600. In the upcoming weeks, basic cadets will receive more military training, Cadet Harrison explained. The cadre will expose basics to a field environment: the basics set up their own tents shortly after arriving in Jacks Valley and will call those tents home throughout their field training. Second Beast also provides a greater focus on teamwork and physical fitness as well as exposure to combat first aid.

At the end of Second Beast, the cadets will march back to the Cadet Area. A few days later, they will retake their oaths of allegiance and officially become freshmen. In its journey along the Long Blue Line, the Class of 2014 will have taken its first step.