Heritage Day - Executioners and Flying Tigers
The Basics entered Doolittle Hall where they had a short briefing from Ret. Gen Mike Gould ‘76, CEO of US Air Force Academy AOG & Foundation, and Dr. Max Miller, a 1959 graduate talked about the Challenge Bridge. The Basics were given a brief history of the Academy, the Heritage of the Air Force, and of the 'Long Blue Line' they will soon become a part of.
They were invited to go outside and meet with members of the Class of 1959 who issued their challenge to them and escorted them across the bridge for their first picture as the newest class to enter the academy.
At the Class Memorial Wall replica (the actual one is inside the Cadet Area), they learned about the ultimate sacrifice of graduates in combat. The trail has plaques that tell of the Heritage, Honor, and Valor of USAFA Graduates.
Kevin Shea, a 1989 graduate who cross commissioned to the Marine Corps and was killed in Iraq. He has a bronze statue on the Heritage Trail honoring his bravery and valor. Fellow graduate, classmate, and friend, Bruce Beyerly was there on Monday to tell the Basics Kevin Shea's story.
At the bottom of the trail, they found members from a variety of classes from the 1960s and 1970s to learn about the Academy’s role in Southeast Asia. There are plaques on the outside walls of different squadrons listing their accomplishments during the war in Asia. There are also plaques by graduating classes listing those classmates that gave their lives in combat.
Inside there is a large wall map of Asia showing locations of the conflicts in Asia and where our military was deployed. There are interactive screens and videos with information on the various conflicts in Asia.
One of the most memorable areas is the Plaza of Heroes where the bronze statue of Capt. Lance P. Sijan is located.
Capt. Sijan was a pilot who lost his aircraft in Vietnam. Sijan struck the trees and then the granite slope in the darkness. The combination of the explosion, the ejection, and the impact of the mountain left him badly injured.
He had a compound fracture of his left leg, a skull fracture, and a concussion. His right hand was mangled, with the fingers bent backward. He lay on the mountainside, amid high trees, about three miles northwest of the Ban Laboy Ford. Sijan was able to evade capture for 46 days.
Sijan was captured, but several days later managed to escape, only to be recaptured a day later. Sijan was later moved to "Hanoi Hilton" and soon afterward died from his injuries and pneumonia.
Basics left with the knowledge of USAFA history, a better understanding of the career they will soon be entering, and what will be expected of them at the Academy and in the military. They gained knowledge from graduates and know that they are welcomed in the Long Blue Line.
To view photos, go to CLASSES > 2026 > BCT-1>ALL. Sort order must be first set to OLDEST to NEWEST. Photos are from pages 936 - 964.
You can also click the link below to access photos: