The Class of 2011 graduates from USAFA this Wednesday, May 25th, at the football stadium. Gates open at 8:00 a.m. and guests are encouraged (military speak for “. . . or you might not get in”) to arrive before 8:30 a.m. The ceremony starts at 10:00 a.m. My family amused themselves in the stands, 31 years ago, by folding newspaper into sun hats.
Cadets, here is my top ten list for things you need to do:
10. Buy a sabre and plaque for your parents and get it engraved, preferably with a phrase that will make your dad cry. Ask me what I wrote that made my dad cry.
9. Drive to Henderson, CO on I-76 to the 96th Street Exit, and borrow the Exit 11 sign. Do Not get caught. After the ceremony, take everybody’s photo in front of it. I deny having written you about this. Oh, yeah, return the sign.
8. After I saluted my squadron mate, we became the first “grads” to kiss each other in front of the whole stadium. Thanks, J-Square. I heartily recommend it. I don’t have that photo, but I have a photo of me ending my career with another kiss (from my husband, not J-Square):
7. Throw your wheel cap. Don’t try to get it back. Start your new life uncluttered.
6. If you see a representative for Marc Henning’s family, be sure and tell them he will always be a part of your class and never forgotten.
5. Be sure to actually give your parents their plaque.
4. If you or your best buddy is getting married, or if you are getting married to each other, change into your mess dress and hurry up to the chapel–and wait. Do not be late. Your fiance is frantic enough.
3. Drive to your first assignment. When you hear the jet traffic overhead, or the rocket launch, pull over to the side of the road, look up, and ponder how lucky you are. Other people only do this in movies. This is your last chance to savor your new life.
2. When you report in, if you have a week or more until your training begins, immediately seek out the officer-in-charge of “casual status assignments.” The BEST job: Lifeguard at the base pool, while receiving 2nd Lieutenant’s pay. The best/worst job: the Base Commander’s office. There you will work hard, learn about everything and everyone at your new base, and establish a quick reputation as either a stellar young officer or a major screw-up. Sometimes both.
1. Be humble and ask questions, especially of secretaries and enlisted personnel.