Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The United States Air Force Academy

Magness Arena, November 29, 2008
(above) Air Force Cadet Ice Arena

The No. 9 Denver Pioneers will host undefeated regional rival The #11 ranked US Air Force Academy from Atlantic Hockey Association in nonconference action on Nov. 29 at Magness Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m. The game will be webcast live (fee) on www.DenverPioneers.com and broadcast live on 560 AM.

DU is 27-3 against Air Force in the series that dates back to 1972, but last year Air Force ended DU's 19-game winning streak in the series with a 5-2 upset win last season at Cadet Ice Arena. Air Force teams always work exceptionally hard, and AFA players are always in peak physical condition, and now with more experienced players, Air Force is fast becoming a national caliber program.

Falcons to Watch
Air Force has outscored its opponents, 62-15, en route to its 12-0-0 perfect record. The Falcons and goaltender Andrew Volkening (12-0-0, 1.24 GAA, .944 Sv%) have held opponents to two goals or less in 11 games, including two shutouts. The Falcons boast three of the top four scorers in the nation in Brent Olson (5-16--21), Jacques Lamoureux (11-10--21) and Greg Flynn (4-15--19).

About The US Air Force Academy
The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA or Air Force) is an accredited college for the undergraduate education of officers for the United States Air Force. Its campus is located immediately north of Colorado Springs in El Paso County, Colorado, United States. The Academy's stated mission is "to educate, train, and inspire men and women to become officers of character motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation."

It is the youngest of the five United States service academies, having graduated its first class in 1959. Graduates of the Academy's four-year program receive a Bachelor of Science degree, and most are commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States Air Force. The Academy is also one of the largest tourist attractions in Colorado, attracting more than a million visitors each year

The Air Force Academy is among the most selective colleges in the United States. Many publications such as U.S. News and World Report do not rank the Academy directly against other colleges because of service academies' special mission. However, a few do; Forbes Magazine recently ranked the Academy 16th in the nation (just behind MIT and just ahead of Stanford and Pomona) in its "America's Best Colleges 2008" publication. Candidates for admission are judged on their academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, athletics and character. To gain admission, candidates must also pass a fitness test, undergo a thorough medical examination, and secure a nomination, which usually comes from one of the candidate's members of Congress. Recent incoming classes have usually consisted of about 1400 cadets; just under 1000 of those usually make it through to graduation. Cadets pay no tuition and receive a monthly stipend, but incur a commitment to serve years in the military service after graduation, usually for 5 years.

The program at the Academy is guided by its core values of "Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do," and based on four "pillars of excellence": military training, academics, athletics and character development. In addition to a rigorous military training regimen, cadets also take a broad academic course load with an extensive core curriculum in engineering, humanities, social sciences, basic sciences, military studies and physical education. All cadets participate in either intercollegiate or intramural athletics, and a thorough character development and leadership curriculum provides cadets a basis for future officership. Each of the components of the program is intended to give cadets the skills and knowledge that they will need for success as officers.

Prior to the Academy's establishment, air power advocates had been pushing for a separate air force academy for decades. As early as 1918, Lieutenant Colonel A.J. Hanlon wrote, "As the Military and Naval Academies are the backbone of the Army and Navy, so must the Aeronautical Academy be the backbone of the Air Service. In 1925, air power pioneer General Billy Mitchell testified on Capitol Hill that it was necessary "to have an air academy to form a basis for the permanent backbone of your air service and to attend to the…organizational part of it, very much the same way that West Point does for the Army, or the Naval Academy for the Navy. Mitchell's arguments did not gain traction with legislators, and it was not until the late 1940s that the concept of the United States Air Force Academy began to take shape.

Support for an air academy got a boost with the National Security Act of 1947, which provided for the establishment of a separate Air Force within the United States military. In January 1950, the Service Academy Board, headed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, then president of Columbia University, concluded that the needs of the Air Force could not be met by the two existing U.S. service academies and that an air force academy should be established.

Following the recommendation of the Board, Congress passed legislation in 1954 to begin the construction of the Air Force Academy, and President Eisenhower signed it into law on April 1 of that year. The original 582 sites considered were winnowed to three: Alton, Illinois; Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; and the ultimate site at Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Secretary of the Air Force, Harold E. Talbott, announced the winning site on June 24, 1954.

The Academy's permanent site had not yet been completed when the first class entered, so the 306 cadets from the Class of 1959 were sworn in at a temporary site at Lowry Air Force Base, in Denver on July 11, 1955. While at Lowry, they were housed in renovated World War II barracks.

The Class of 1959 established many other important traditions that continue until the present. Most notably, the first class adopted the Cadet Honor Code, and chose the falcon as the Academy's mascot.

The Vietnam War was the first war in which Academy graduates fought and died. As such, it had a profound effect on the development of the character of the Academy. Due to the need for more pilots, Academy enrollment grew significantly during this time. The size of the graduating classes went from 217 cadets in 1961 to 745 cadets in 1970.

One of the most significant events in the history of the Academy was the admission of women. On October 7, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed legislation permitting women to enter the United States service academies. On June 26, 1976, 157 women entered the Air Force Academy with the Class of 1980. Women have made up just over 20% of the most recent classes.

The campus of the Academy covers 18,000 acres on the east side of the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains, just north of Colorado Springs. Its altitude is normally given as 7,258 feet above sea-level, which is the elevation of the cadet area. The Academy was designed by architect Walter Netsch with the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.

The buildings in the Cadet Area were designed in a distinct, modernist style, and make extensive use of aluminum on building exteriors, suggesting the outer skin of aircraft or spacecraft. On April 1, 2004, fifty years after Congress authorized the building of the Academy, the Cadet Area at the Academy was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The main buildings in the Cadet Area are set around a large, square pavilion known as the Terrazzo. The most recognizable building in the Cadet Area is the 17-spired Cadet Chapel. The subject of controversy when it was first built, it is now considered among the most beautiful examples of modern American academic architecture.

The organization of the Academy has characteristics of both a military unit and a civilian college. Like a civilian college, the students, called "cadets", are divided into four classes, based on their year in school. They are not referred to as freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, however, but as fourth-, third-, second- and first class cadets, respectively. Fourth class cadets (freshmen) are sometimes referred to as "doolies," a term derived from the Greek word δουλος ("doulos") meaning "slave" or "servant. Members of the three lower classes are also referred to as "4 degrees," "3 degrees" or "2 degrees" based on their class. First-class cadets are referred to as "firsties." In the military structure of the Cadet Wing, first class cadets (seniors) act as the cadet officers, second class cadets (juniors) act as the cadet non-commissioned officers and third class cadets (sophomores) as cadet junior non-commissioned officers or senior airmen.

The Cadet Wing is divided into four cadet groups, of ten cadet squadrons each. Each cadet squadron consists of about 110 cadets, roughly evenly distributed among the four classes. Selected first-, second- and third-class cadets hold leadership, operational and support jobs at the squadron, group and wing levels. Cadets live, march and eat meals with members of their squadron, and take part in many activities, notably military training and intramural athletics, by squadron as well. Cadets' military training occurs throughout their time at the Academy, but is especially intense during their four summers.

The Air Force Academy is an accredited four-year university offering Bachelor's degrees in a variety of subjects. Approximately 75 percent of the Academy faculty is comprised of Air Force officers, with the remaining 25 percent civilian professors, visiting professors from civilian universities and instructors from other U.S. and allied foreign military services. In recent years, civilians have become a growing portion of senior faculty. All graduates receive Bachelor of Science degree, regardless of major, because of the technical content of the core requirements. Cadets may major in a variety of divisional, disciplinary or inter-disciplinary subjects, including majors in engineering, the basic sciences, social sciences and humanities. Traditionally, the academic program at the Air Force Academy (as with military academies in general) has focused heavily on science and engineering, with the idea that many graduates would be expected to manage complex aeronautical, space and communications systems.

Despite the exceptionally high standards expected of cadets, faculty and staff, and the fact that the selection processes are among the most thorough and most rigorous to be found, the Academy has not been immune from scandal. The first Honor scandal broke in 1965, when a resigning cadet reported knowing of more than 100 cadets who had been involved in a cheating ring. One hundred and nine cadets were ultimately expelled. Cheating scandals rocked the Academy again in 1967, 1972, 1984, 2005 and 2007. The sexual assault scandal that broke in 2003 forced the Academy to look more closely at how effectively women had been integrated into cadet life.

About The US Air Force Academy Hockey Program
The Falcons are in the 41st season of varsity hockey at the Air Force Academy, but the origins of Air Force Hockey date back to infancy of the Academy. In 1958, a group of cadets began an intramural hockey team. Relying on freezing temperatures and the shadows from the dormitory, cadets donned football and lacrosse equipment and played hockey in the courtyard of Vandenberg Hall.

A few years later one of the greatest college hockey coaches ever, Vic Heyliger, became interested in such a fledgling program. With six national championships to his credit at Michigan in the 1950s, the “Father of Air Force Hockey,” came to the Academy in 1966 and guided the club team.

At long last came the night of Nov. 29, 1968, when the first varsity hockey game was played at the newly built Cadet Ice Arena, part of the Cadet Fieldhouse complex. The Falcons defeated the Colorado All-Stars, a group of former collegiate players, 8-6. The first game was not without its share of quirky moments. During the first shift in the first period, a slap shot was taken and went completely through the “shatter-proof” glass and onto the running track in the multi-purpose area.

Officially classified as NCAA Division I independent since 1968, Air Force played a mixed schedule of Division I and Division II opponent for many years, until admission into College Hockey America in 1999-2000 and into Atlantic Hockey in 2006-2007 guaranteed a fuller slate of Division I opponents.

The Falcons finally got their first taste of intercollegiate competition in the new arena and it was not pleasant. Notre Dame, another first-year program, swept the Falcons, 8-1and 5-4. Air Force gained its first home win with a 6-4 win over Ohio State on Jan. 17, 1968.

The program continued to gain momentum, posting its first winning season in 1970-71 with a 15-11-2 record. However, it was the following season that would be the Falcons’ breakthrough year. Heyliger hired his former All-American player at Michigan, John Matchefts, as an assistant coach and the Falcons posted a 25-6 record in 1971-72.

A few years later, in Matchefts’ first season as head coach, the Falcons posted a 24-5-1 mark for the school’s best winning percentage. What will best be remembered from that team is a pair of dramatic one-goal wins over Colorado College.

Matchefts went on to win 154 games in 11 seasons before passing the baton to his former standout, Chuck Delich. Delich, who still ranks eighth in NCAA history in career scoring, shattered every school record in his four year career.

After taking over the program in 1985, Delich garnered early success much like his predecessor. In his second season, he posted a 19-10 record, the most wins in 10 years. He then strung together a school-record five consecutive winning seasons in his 12 years while tying the school record with 154 coaching wins. During the Delich years, the Falcons posted a winning record against rival Army, including a 6-1-1 record at home against the Black Knights.

The third decade of Falcon hockey brought several changes to the program. Former DU coach Frank Serratore (left), who has coached at nearly every level of hockey, took over in 1998. His enthusiastic, disciplined style of hockey injected a new energy into the program, and Serratore engineered the Air Force program into a conference play, first with College Hockey America in 1999, and later with Atlantic Hockey in 2006. Additionally, he was able to establish deeper recruiting of players with junior hockey experience, rather than players straight from high school hockey (as was the case with most of the AFA recruited players in the first 30 years). The additional experience of the junior players has been a huge boost to the national competitiveness of the program in recent years.

Serratore has led the Falcons to more Division I victories than any other Falcon coach. In Serratore’s 10th season, he took the program to new heights. The Falcons claimed the 2007 Atlantic Hockey Association championship and played Minnesota in the NCAA West Regional in Denver, both firsts for any service academy team.

Serratore backed that championship season up with another ring as the Falcons won the 2008 AHA title and faced Miami in the NCAA Northeast Regional. Both years, the Falcons scared two of the top teams in the nation, falling by just one goal each team, including one in overtime.

One of the key players for the recent transformation of Air Force hockey into a national level program was Eric Ehn, the most decorated hockey player in school history, Ehn, a forward, who was a Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalist in 2007, concluded his career last year with 146 points in 133 career games.

Air Force Traditions
Nickname and Mascot:
Members of the Air Force class of 1959, the first to enter the academy, picked the falcon as the mascot of the cadet wing in 1955. Later that fall, they enlisted the first falcon to serve the academy. The mascot was a peregrine falcon named “Mach 1," which refers to the speed of sound. Each bird that has served the academy has carried the Mach 1 name, but receives an individual name from the cadet group known as the falconers. The cadets that care for and train the mascots keep 12 to 15 falcons. For a falcon to be properly trained, the falconers spend an average of 300 hours of labor over a six-week period. Though they never completely domesticate the falcons, they train them to fly for more than an hour and make repeated stoops at a baited lure held by a cadet falconer.

Hailed as the NCAA’s only performing mascot, the Air Force Falcon is a crowd pleaser. The bird can achieve a speed of more than 200 miles per hour and makes the game day experience even more exciting by diving and zooming low over the heads of spectators. Besides the live falcon, a costumed Falcon mascot known as “The Bird” also serves in the Academy’s ranks, and is often seen parachuting into Falcon Stadium for football games.

Unlike many nicknames that have mysterious or meaningless origins, the Air Force Academy’s nickname suits perfectly. The qualities possessed by the falcon are reflected in many ways by the cadets the bird represents.

Falcons are known for unhesitatingly attacking and killing prey twice their size. Due to military weight standards, the Air Force teams are often smaller than the teams they play. Keen eyesight is another falcon characteristic that’s found in Air Force Cadets. Students at the academy must have perfect vision to fly our nation’s elite aircraft. The falcon’s heritage has also soared into the United States Air Force. Fittingly, one of the best weapons in the Air Force arsenal is the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

School Colors:
Blue and Silver

Fight Song: The US Air Force
Although not the Academy's official fight song, the first verse of the song is frequently played at Academy sporting events and at other functions, such as parades. "The U.S. Air Force" is the official song of the United States Air Force. It is informally known as "The Air Force Song," and is often informally referred to as "Into the Wild Blue Yonder", "Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder," or simply "Wild Blue Yonder."

Originally, the song was known as the 'Army Air Corps Song.' Captain Robert MacArthur Crawford wrote the lyrics and music in 1939. In 1947, the words "U.S. Air Force" in the title and lyrics replaced the original "Army Air Corps". On September 27, 1979, General Lew Allen, Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force, adopted it as the official song for the service.

In 1937, Assistant Chief of the Air Corps Brig. Gen. Hap Arnold persuaded the Chief of the Air Corps, Maj. Gen. Oscar Westover, that airmen needed a song reflecting their unique identity, and proposed a song competition with a prize to the winner. However, the Air Corps had no control over its budget, and could not give a prize. Liberty magazine stepped in, offering a purse of $1,000 to the winner.

Around 757 compositions were entered, and evaluated by a volunteer committee chaired by Mildred Yount, the wife of a senior Air Corps officer, and featuring several distinguished musicians. The committee had until July 1939 to make a final choice. However, word eventually spread that the committee found no songs that satisfied them, despite the massive number of entries. Arnold, who took over command of the Air Corps in 1938 after Westover was killed in a plane crash, solicited direct inquiries from contestants, including Irving Berlin, but not even Berlin's creations proved satisfactory. Just before the deadline, Crawford entered his song, which proved to be a unanimous winner.

Lyrics:
Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun;

Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,

At 'em boys,
Give 'er the gun!

Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,

Off with one hell of a roar!

We live in fame or go down in flame.

Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!


Famous Air Force Academy Alumni

Military
* Gen. Michael P.C. Carns, Class of 1959: Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force
* Lt. Gen. Bradley C. Hosmer, Class of 1959: The first graduate in the order of merit in the first class at the Academy, the Academy's first Rhodes Scholar and the first graduate to return to the Academy as Superintendent
* Gen. Hansford T. Johnson, Class of 1959: The first graduate to be promoted to the rank of general (four-star); assistant secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment 2001-2005, and Acting Secretary of the Navy in 2003
* Gen. Robert C. Oaks, Class of 1959: Commander of Air Training Command and United States Air Forces in Europe
* Gen. George L. Butler, Class of 1961: Commander, United States Strategic Command
* Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, Class of 1963: The first graduate to be selected as Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, serving in that position from 1994-1997
* Gen. Howell M. Estes III, Class of 1965: Commander, United States Space Command
* Capt. Lance Sijan, Class of 1965: Prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, and the first graduate to be awarded the Medal of Honor. His story is told in the book Into the Mouth of the Cat by Malcom McConnell.
* Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Class of 1973: Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, 2008-
* Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, Class of 1974: Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force

Astronauts
35 Air Force Academy graduates have become astronauts - Here are some of them:

* Karol J. Bobko, Class of 1959: The first graduate in space, and the only astronaut to have flown on the maiden flight of two space shuttle orbiters
* Frederick D. Gregory, Class of 1964: Former Deputy Administrator of NASA, former acting Administrator for NASA, commander of two space shuttle missions, the first African-American to pilot the space shuttle and the first African-American to command any space vehicle
* Roy D. Bridges, Jr., Class of 1965: Director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center from 1997-2003 and Director of NASA's Langley Research Center from 2003-2005.
* Dr. Ronald M. Sega, Class of 1974: Former Under Secretary of the United States Air Force
* Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, Class of 1976: Currently serving as Commander, U.S. Strategic Command
* Brig. Gen. Susan J. Helms, Class of 1980: Space flights included 163 days aboard the International Space Station; currently serving as Commander, 45th Space Wing
* Steven W. Lindsey, Class of 1982: Two space flights as shuttle pilot, including flight with Sen. John Glenn. Another two spaceflights as commander, including the recent STS-121

Government, law and politics
* T. Allen McArtor, Class of 1964: Former Administrator of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration; former CEO, Legend Airlines; current chair, Airbus, North American Holdings
* Gary A. Grappo, Class of 1972: U.S. Ambassador to Oman
* John C. (Chris) Inglis, Class of 1976: Deputy Director of the U.S. National Security Agency
* Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM), Class of 1982: The first graduate to be elected to the United States Congress and currently the only female veteran serving in Congress

Business and industry
* Richard T. Schlosberg, Class of 1965: Former president and CEO of the David & Lucile Packard Foundation and former publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times
* Charles E. Phillips Jr., Class of 1981: President of the Oracle Corporation
* Scott Kirby, Class of 1989: President of US Airways Group

Sports
* Gregg Popovich, Class of 1970: Head coach of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs who led the team to NBA championships in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007, and won the NBA Coach of the Year Award for the 2002-2003 season.
* Randall W. Spetman, Class of 1976: Athletic Director at Florida State University.
* Alonzo Babers, Class of 1983: Winner of two gold medals (400m and 4×400m relay) at the 1984 Olympics
* Chad Hennings, Class of 1988: Winner of the Outland Trophy; played nine seasons for the Dallas Cowboys and earned three Super Bowl rings; 2006 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame.
* Troy Calhoun, Class of 1989: Head coach of the Air Force football team; former offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans.

About Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs is the county seat and most populous city of El Paso County, Colorado. At 372,437, it is the second most populous city in the State of Colorado behind Denver and the 47th most populous city in the United States. In 2007.the Colorado Springs area had a population of 609,096. The city is situated near the base of one of the most famous American mountains, Pikes Peak, at the eastern edge of the southern Rocky Mountains.

While noted for its exceptional natural beauty and climate, Colorado Springs is not exempt from the problems that typically plague cities that experience tremendous growth: overcrowded roads and highways, crime, sprawl, and government budget issues. Many of the problems are indirectly or directly caused by the city's difficulty in coping with the large population growth experienced in the last 20 years.

It is a well known as a conservative city, as it is dominated by large military installations including Fort Carson, NORAD and the United States Air Force Academy, which make up the largest employers in the city. Also, a large percentage of Colorado Springs' economy is also based on high tech and manufacturing complex electronic equipment, second to the military in terms of total revenue generated and employment.

Additionally, a large number of religious organizations such as Focus on the Family and churches make their headquarters here, particularly Evangelical Christians, as well as serving as the headquarters for the US Olympic Committee and many national sports governing bodies.
Colorado Springs was founded in August 1871 as a residential community by General William Palmer, with the intention of creating a high quality resort community to benefit from the mountain location, his railroad and the proximity to mining affluence from a previous gold strike at nearby Colorado City. The flow of gold and silver ebbed as the decades passed, and Colorado City's economic fortunes faded with it; the miners and those who processed the ore left or retired. Because of the healthy natural scenic beauty, mineral waters, and extremely dry climate, Colorado Springs became a tourist attraction and popular recuperation destination for tuberculosis patients.
The Game

The 31st meeting between DU and AFA marks the first time in series history that both teams will be ranked, and Air Force heads into the CC/DU weekend as the lone unbeaten NCAA Division I hockey team at 12-0-0. DU is 18-2 against the Falcons in Denver dating back to 1972, and DU has historically had little trouble with Air Force in the first 25 years of the series, but that is changing rapidly with the ascension of the Air Force program.

Air Force ranks No. 1 in the nation in scoring at an incredible 5.17gpg, while Denver is No. 8 at 3.38 gpg. Air Force is No. 3 in defense at 1.25 gpg, and Denver is No. 27 at 2.62 gpg. On paper, this would appear to be mismatch in Air Force’s favor, but it’s fair to speculate that at least part of Air Force’s dominant numbers are a result of a schedule that has yet to see the Falcons play a team from a major conference, let alone a ranked team. That said, the AFA’s large margins of victory have been impressive so far, and I have every reason to expect that Air Force will be a very, very formidable test for the Pioneers.

DU Coach Gwozdecky has even gone so far as to call his team “underdogs” in the contest in the media this week, and given Air Force’s 5-2 beat down of the Pioneers last season, I am sure the Pioneers have many incentives to gain some revenge this weekend. Playing at home, I think the Pioneers should be sufficiently motivated, and Air Force will likely have had an intense game the night before against CC.

DU is coming off a Jekyll-and-Hyde split with Minnesota, where Friday, DU was awful in a 5-2 loss, but after a players-only team meeting and coach Gwozdecky’s benching of four regulars the next night, the Pioneers played great hockey in shutting out the top-ranked Gophers, 4-0. I would expect to see Patrick Mullen return to the lineup this weekend as a puck-moving defenseman with Patrick Wiercioch’s duties likely limited to the power-play only due to an upper-body injury.

The Falcons play a relentless forechecking game, and rely on goalie Andrew Volkening (12-0-0, 1.24 GAA, .944 Sv%) to keep the puck out, so expect Denver to look for transition opportunities and a strong first pass out of the zone to try and exploit the Falcons playing in the zone too deeply.

Prediction: Denver 5, Air Force 4

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