Sunday, April 21, 2013

The mystique of U.S. Air Force Academy Traditions

The mystique of U.S. Air Force Academy Traditions

August 27, 2029

Weekly Report Posted: December 07, 2012 03:35

Prop and Wings
The Prop and Wings insignia of the Air Service (1918–26), Air Corps (1926–41), and Army Air Forces (1941–47) became the insignia of upperclass cadets at the Air Force Academy beginning with the first class, 1959. The insignia is given to fourth class (freshmen) cadets at the Recognition Ceremony near the end of their first year rite of passage. The standard insignia uses the design of the Air Corps Prop and Wings, except that it is all silver instead of the gold wings and silver prop of the earlier design. Cadets who have ancestors who served in the Air Service, Air Corps, or Army Air Forces, or those who are direct descendants of Air Force Academy graduates, are eligible to wear the gold wings and silver prop design.

Cadet sabre
The Air Force Academy cadet sabre is carried by first class (senior) cadets in command positions in the Cadet Wing. All graduates are normally entitled to own no more than two sabres: one for personal use and one to be given as a gift. The Plaque and Sabre Award is the highest award given by the Cadet Wing to dignitaries and other honorees.

Class ring
The American college tradition of the class ring began with the class of 1835 at the U.S. Military Academy. From there, it spread to the U.S. Naval Academy in the class of 1869. The Air Force Academy continued the tradition, beginning with the first class, 1959, and so is the only service academy to have had class rings for every class since its founding. The Air Force ring is distinctive for being white gold instead of the yellow gold used at the other academies. Each class designs its own class crest; the only requirements being that each crest include all the elements on the Class of 1959's crest: the class number, the class year, the Polaris star, and the eagle. One side of the ring bears the academy crest, while the other side bears the class crest; the center bezel bears the words United States Air Force Academy. Cadets choose their own stones for the center of the ring. The rings are received at the Ring Dance at the beginning of the Graduation Week festivities for the class ahead of the ring recipients. The rings traditionally are placed in glasses of champagne and are caught in the teeth following a toast. During the cadet's first class (senior) year, the ring is worn with the class crest facing the wearer; following graduation, the ring is turned so that the academy's crest faces away from the wearer. The rings of all the academies were originally designed to be worn on the left hand, so that the wearer reads the name of the academy on the bezel while a cadet or midshipman and others can read it after graduation, the rings are now worn on either hand. The Academy's Association of Graduates (AOG) accepts rings of deceased graduates which are melted down to form an ingot of white gold from which a portion of all future rings are made. Both the academy's Association of Graduates and the Academy Library maintain displays of class rings.

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