Breaking barriers! Air Force’s 70th Birthday:

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY
President Dwight Eisenhower (seated) shakes hands with Secretary of the Air Force Harold Talbott, April 1, 1954, after signing legislation authorizing the establishment of the U.S. Air Force Academy.
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
March 30, 2017

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force celebrates its 70th birthday this year and the Air Force Academy has made many contributions to our service’s legacy and history of breaking barriers, and advancing technology and innovation. Here are some very notable achievements that have occurred in March’s of the past. 

March 1, 1962 — The Thomas D. White Award is established by the Academy. The award, presented annually to a U.S. citizen who contributes significantly to national defense, is named in honor of former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Thomas Dresser White.

March 1, 1996 — Col. Randy Spetman, a 1976 Academy graduate, is the first Academy graduate to serve as director of athletics.

March 1, 2004 — Air Force men’s basketball defeats San Diego State 61-49 in Clune Arena to win its first Mountain West Conference title — its first conference championship in any league.

March 1, 2012 — The Academy’s National Resources Office wins the 2011 National Military Conservation Partner Award, given by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The award, created in 2004, acknowledges a military installation for its outstanding accomplishments in promoting conservation on military lands.

March 2, 1964 — The Academy begins closed circuit TV classes in mathematics for Academy servicemen and their dependents.

March 2, 1965 — First Lt. Hayden Lockhart, a 1961 Academy graduate, is piloting an F-100 when he’s shot-down and captured, becoming the first Academy graduate to become a prisoner of war.

March 2, 1967 — The Academy Office of Information issues a press release stating the Cadet Honor Committee has completed hearings into honor violations reported Feb. 24, 1967. The release  said 46 cadets had been resigned and left the Academy. After being criticized for secrecy after a 1965 honor incident, the Academy was praised for its candor regarding this incident.

March 2, 1979 — Ken Hatfield is the fourth head football coach in Air Force history. He hires Fisher DeBerry as his quarterback coach and later offensive coordinator, and the pair institute the “option offense,” giving the team great success.

March 3, 1964 — President Lyndon Johnson signs Public Law 88-276, authorizing the Air Force Academy and the U.S. Military Academy to expand to the Naval Academy’s strength. The Air Force Cadet Wing would increase from 2,529 to 4,417.

March 3, 2012 — Dave Pilipovich is named permanent head coach of the men’s basketball team.

March 4, 1949 — Secretary of Defense James Forrestal establishes the Service Academy Board to study U.S. service academies and make recommendations.

March 4, 1976 — Capt. Lance P. Sijan, a 1965 Academy graduate, is the first and so far only graduate to be awarded the Medal of Honor. President Gerald Ford presented the award to Sijan’s parents at a White House ceremony.

March 4, 2004 — Second Lt. Christopher Ayoub, a 2003 Academy graduate, receives the 2003 Cadet of the Year award at a Pentagon ceremony. The Air Force award recognizes the most outstanding cadet in an Air Force commissioning program. Ayoub is the first Academy graduate to win the award, established in 2000.

March 7, 1960 — The men’s basketball team makes the Academy’s first appearance in the NCAA basketball tournament, losing 69-63 to DePaul. Only 25 teams make the tournament during that time.

March 7, 1967 — The Academy hospital receives the Outstanding Unit Citation.

March 7, 1986 — The U.S. Air Force Academy Band opens for entertainer and impressionist Rich Little in Arnold Hall.

March 7, 1993 — U.S. Air Force Academy Band performs with guest conductor Gen. Maj. Nikolaj Mikhailovich Mikhailov, chief of Military Bands of the Russian Federation.

March 8, 1954 — The Senate passes a bill establishing an Academy.

March 8, 2004 — Nick Welch, a 2002 Academy graduate, wins the Mountain West Conference Co-Player of the Year Award. Air Force head coach Joe Scott is named Coach of the Year.

March 8, 2007 — The FalconSAT-3 is launched aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, one of five deployed from the first-ever secondary payload adapter ring used with NASA’s current generation evolved expendable launch vehicles.

March 8, 2008 — The Astronautics Department celebrates its 50th anniversary as the world’s first undergraduate astronautical engineering program.

 March 8, 2010 — Lt. Gen. Albert Patton Clark, the sixth Academy superintendent and president of the Friends of the Air Force Academy Library, dies.

March 9, 1954 — Nathaniel Owings submits a formal request to Secretary of the Air Force Harold Talbott requesting Skidmore Owings and Merrill be considered as architects and engineers for the Academy. They eventually won the contract.

March 9, 1960 — The second Academy Assembly begins. Gen. Lauris Norstad, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is the keynote speaker.

March 10, 1992 — Doolittle Hall, the Association of Graduates building, opens for partial use.

March 10, 1994 — Capt. Harold Waters, a 1985 Academy graduate, flies the mission for which he received the 1995 Col. James Jabara Award for Airmanship. Waters recovered his RC-135 with 32 crew members on board after catastrophic a electrical failure occurred over the North Atlantic.

March 10, 2010 — First Lt. Roni Yadlin, a 2009 Academy graduate, plays on the University of Oxford soccer team as the Blues beat Bedfordshire to win the British collegiate national championship. Yadlin, who played at Air Force, was at Oxford on a Holaday Scholarship, awarded annually to the top-ranking Academy graduate who competes for, but doesn’t win, a Rhodes Scholarship.

March 12, 1962 — The men’s basketball team makes the Academy’s second appearance in the NCAA basketball tournament, losing 68-66 to Texas Tech. Only 25 teams make the tournament during that time.

March 13, 2000 — Second Lt. Shawna (Ng-A-Qui) Kimbrell, a 1998 Academy graduate, is the first African-American woman to become an Air Force F-16 fighter pilot.

March 14, 2004 — The men’s basketball team earns its first NCAA bid since 1962.

March 15, 1996 — The Friends of the Air Force Academy Library sponsors its second annual exhibit: “The Benjamin C. Steele Prisoner of War Art Exhibit.”

March 15, 1997 — A major library exhibit opens to commemorate receipt of the collections of former prisoners of war held in Stalag Luft III. The Academy library has the world’s largest collection of American POW manuscripts from Stalag Luft III.

March 15, 2007 — Cadet 2nd Class Eric Ehn, a 2008 Academy graduate, becomes the first service academy hockey player to be named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given to the best player in the country. It’s the hockey equivalent of college football’s Heisman Trophy. Two weeks later, he’s recognized as one of the top three intercollegiate hockey players in the nation by his inclusion on the Hobey Baker Hat Trick list.

March 16, 2006 — The men’s basketball team makes the Academy’s fourth appearance in the NCAA basketball tournament, losing 78-69 to Illinois.

March 17, 1995 — The Friends of the Air Force Academy Library sponsors its first annual exhibit, “The Eagle Squadrons of World War II.”

March 17, 2007 — Falcon Hockey beats Army 6-1 to win the Atlantic Hockey Association championship and qualify for the 16-team NCAA hockey tournament. The team is the first service academy hockey team to win a conference title and to play in an NCAA tournament.

March 18, 2004 — Men’s Basketball makes the Academy’s third appearance in an NCAA basketball tournament, losing 63-52 to North Carolina.

March 18, 2008 — Sixty-percent of Academy agencies receive outstanding or excellent ratings for their performance in the unit compliance inspection.

(Editor’s note: This list of achievements was created by Steven Simon, a 1977 Academy graduate.)

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