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2.21.2010 - 27 comments 

This place (like most places run by the military was a fantastic place to visit. It was very well run and at every corner of this place there was a unmistakable sense of order and discipline. But then when you look at the photos, you can see for yourself that everything seems to be in its very precise and ordered position. When we arrived at the front gate the guard there told us in very precise terms how to proceed to the visitor center.

When we got to the visitors center we were assigned to a group that then formed up around our guide who then started our guided tour of the campus. She was very knowledgeable of the campus, but as we walked along a path from the visitor center, she would point things out and then she told us about the history of the academy. Things like the fact that the idea of an Air Force academy became a reality on April 1, 1954, when then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill establishing the U.S. Air Force Academy. And that many of America's pioneer Airmen advocated the creation of an academy to prepare officers especially for the air service. One of them, Brig. Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell, tried in vain to persuade the government, then private interests, to establish such a school.

In 1948, the Air Force appointed a board of leading civilian and military educators to plan the curriculum for an Air Force academy. The idea made little progress outside the Air Force until 1949, when Secretary of Defense James Forrestal appointed a board of military and civilian educators. This board, headed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, then president of Columbia University, and Robert L. Stearns, president of the University of Colorado, was tasked to recommend a general system of education for the Army, Navy and Air Force.

In 1950, this board found the needs of the Air Force could not be met by a desirable expansion of the older service academies. The board recommended that an Air Force academy be established without delay and proposed that, in peacetime, not less than 40 percent of the regular officers taken into each service should be academy graduates.

Congress authorized creation of the Air Force Academy in 1954. Harold E. Talbott, then secretary of the Air Force, appointed a commission to assist him in selecting the permanent site. After traveling 21,000 miles and considering 580 proposed sites in 45 states, the commission recommended three locations. From those, Secretary Talbott selected the site near Colorado Springs. The state of Colorado contributed $1 million toward the purchase of the property.

On July 11, 1955, the same year construction began, the first class of 306 men were sworn in at a temporary site at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver. Lt. Gen. Hubert R. Harmon, a key figure in the development of the Academy since 1949, was recalled from retirement to become the first superintendent.

Two years later, Maj. Gen. Briggs took over as the Academy's second superintendent. During his tour, on Aug. 29, 1958, the wing of 1,145 cadets moved from Denver to its present site. Less than a year later, the Academy received accreditation. On March 3, 1964, the authorized strength of the Cadet Wing was increased to 4,417 and later reduced to its present number of 4,000.

Perhaps the most controversial event in academy history was the admission of women. President Gerald R. Ford signed legislation Oct. 7, 1975, permitting women to enter the nation's military academies. Women entered the Air Force Academy for the first time on June 28, 1976. The first class with women graduated in May 1980.

As with any other institution, the Air Force Academy has suffered growing pains. But in its relatively short period of existence, the school has excelled in its quest for excellence to a degree that similar organizations achieved only after much longer periods.

The Academy has provided the Air Force with a corps of officers dedicated to upholding the high standards of the United States. The Air Force has provided a proving ground for these officers and a source for the dedicated staff members who have come to the academy to educate and train these future leaders. Throughout its history, one theme has been constant and persistent - a Commitment to Excellence. It is with that theme that the Air Force Academy looks forward to the future.

I guess there were a couple of things that sort of stuck with us from this visit was that as we continued on our academy tour over to the Chapel, she pointed of that the chapel was not only a protestant chapel, but it is also has services (and defined areas inside of it) for other religions; like catholics, Jews and Buddhists. I have included shots I took in each one of those chapel areas inside the large chapel. Another point that was very interesting to Mrs. LZ and I was that fact that she pointed out that it was above every other building on the campus as homage to God.

Another thing that stood out was the fact that everyone on the campus has a structure in which the students (cadets) go everywhere in formation. In fact if you notice there is one group there that is holding something in their hands as they are marching. As we found out from our guide, they were actual holding their dirty laundry on their way to the laundry facilities to clean them. Talk about structure! At any rate, we were very impressed with this facility and admired the young men and women on this campus who have given their lives to help protect our country in this manner.I personally salute each and every one of you.

"... I am an American Airman;
Wingman, leader, warrior.
I will never leave an airman behind,
I will never falter,
And I will not fail."


~ Taken from the last part of the "Airman's Creed"