United States Air Force Academy Cadet Wing

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The seal/logo/insignia of the United States Air Force Cadet Wing
Air Force Academy cadets celebrate after graduation.

The United States Air Force Academy Cadet Wing (AFCW) is the student body of the United States Air Force Academy. The students, called "cadets", are divided into four classes, based on their year in school, much like a civilian college. 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 δοῦλος ("doulos") meaning "slave" or "servant."[1] Members of the three lower classes are also referred to as "4 degrees," "3 degrees" or "2 degrees" based on their class.[2] First-class cadets (seniors) are referred to as "firsties." In the military structure of the Cadet Wing, first class cadets hold the positions of cadet officers, second class cadets act as the cadet non-commissioned officers and third class cadets represent the cadet junior non-commissioned officers.[citation needed] The wing is commanded by the Cadet Wing Commander (AFCW/CC).


Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 1[edit]

"Mighty Mach One" is the first squadron in Cadet Group One.

The emblem in the shape of a spearhead and bordered in black, has two colored fields, the upper green and the lower black. A black diagonal strip edged in white separates the fields. A black Maltese cross trimmed in white is on the green field and a gold griffin is on the black field. "First Takes Care of its Own" is written in black letters on a gold scroll beneath the black field.[3]

The griffin, a creature in Greek mythology, seeks hidden treasure while protecting its own treasure from intruders. The griffin symbolizes the search for the treasure from intruders. The griffin symbolizes the search for the treasure of knowledge in areas yet unknown and unexplored. The Maltese Cross, awarded to the bravest and most courageous military men, indicates a devotion to duty and a dedication to success. The cross, positioned above the black diagonal strip, indicates a higher ideal in life to which one should strive.

The emblem is fashioned after the famous 1st Fighter Wing, the original squadron sponsor. The colors green, gold and black, the Maltese Cross and the diagonal strip are similar to the 1st Fighter Wing emblem.

Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 2[edit]

"Deuce" is the second squadron in Cadet Group One.

The squadron's patch is a large circular emblem with a thin silver border. A banner inscribed with the word "DEUCE" sits on top of the circle. From a white contrail on a black field emerges the Roman numeral II. A red and blue contrail, produced by two jet aircraft frame the white contrail.[3]

The red, white and blue contrails represents the colors of the American flag. The "II" identifies the Second Cadet Squadron. The black background signifies the vastness of space. The planes originating from the top of the field denote humanity?s conquest of space. The three contrails represent the three areas in which all cadets strive to excel: Military, academics, and athletics.

The patch, designed and first used by the Second Cadet Squadron in 1972, is the third patch worn by its members.

Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 3[edit]

Circular in design, this royal blue patch is edged with a black border. The prominent feature is a lunging, silver, three-headed dog. Behind the dog are three red columns resting on a red pedestal. Across the tops of the columns is a red lintel bearing the word "Cerberus." Silver bands edge the base and the top of each of the three columns. Behind the columns is a yellow fire accented with red.

Cerberus is the gods’ three-headed watchdog with the tail of a dragon or a serpent; the three heads symbolize the qualities of loyalty, obedience and fearlessness. The Roman numeral III links the squadron’s number and heritage to one of the greatest professional armies of all time. It also represents the gate that Cerberus guards. Fire, traditionally a symbol of eternity, represents the eternal and undying nature of the ideals of the Third Squadron.

The "Cerberus Three" patch replaced the original Third Squadron patch in 1977

Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 4[edit]

"Fightin Fourth" is the fourth squadron in Cadet Group One.

The squadron's patch is centered around a Prop and Wings in the foreground approaching from an infinite distance. The Prop and Wings is at the center of a blue, black and gold blast. A red number 4 is dominantly displayed in the upper right, adjacent to the white banner that reads "Fightin' Fourth" in black letters. The colors Gold, and Blue are present in the blast, the color Silver in the Prop and Wings and the color Red in the number 4. These colors are the 4 class colors of the academy, representing the squadrons inclusion of all four classes in all they do, and they also contain the colors of the American flag. The Prop and Wings are an insignia of the upperclass cadet at the Academy, representing the squadrons quest to rise above the rest of the wing.[3]

The "4" identifies the Fourth Cadet Squadron. The blast is a symbol of strength and dominance. The contrails originating from the background at infinity to the Prop and Wings in the foreground represent the long, infinite struggle for "Excellence in All We Do," an Air Force Core Value.

The patch was designed in 1959, by the class of 1963. Cadet Squadron Four is one of the few squadrons at the Academy that still has the same original name, and patch. The squadron name "Fightin' Fourth" is the only squadron name not chosen by the squadron itself, but picked by cadets in the rest of wing. In 1959, when the Academy was still at Lowry Air Force Base, Cadet Squadron Four defended the Academy mascot, the falcon, from a visiting athletic team's prank. The squadron was given the name "Fightin' Fourth," which has stuck to this day.

Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 5[edit]

The patch is a white circle bordered in blue. A blue semicircular field, placed at an angle on the upper half of the patch, shows a camouflaged F-4 Phantom jet. A snarling gray wolf’s head rests on the cockpit of the aircraft, and a red numeral "5" is located on the fuselage to the right of the wolf. "Wolfpack" is written on the white field below the aircraft.

The patch signifies the squadron’s association with the famous "Wolfpack" Fighter wing, led in Southeast Asia by Brigadier General Robin Olds; the fierceness, professionalism and dedication to duty demonstrated by the wing is emulated the Fifth Squadron Cadets. The F-4 and the wolf indicate the cunning and tenacity used by Gen Olds’ forces and the high degree of spirit they demonstrated.

This is the second patch in the squadron’s history. Design by James Bisher, class of 1978, it was approved in January 1976

Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 6[edit]

The bright red patch, a circle bordered in white, shows a large, boldly printed white "6_ located in the center. A ferocious black bull, snorting a white cloud, leaps through the circular opening at the bottom of the six.

The huge black bull, the Sixth Squadron’s mascot symbolizes strength, courage, determination, perseverance and tenacity. The bright red background adds to the glory of the bull.

This is the original squadron patch.

Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 7[edit]

"Shadow Seven" is the seventh USAFA Cadet Squadron.

The patch is a royal blue equilateral triangle, bordered in gold, standing on its vertex. A white unicorn, its features outlined in blue, stands in the center. A golden lightning bolt overlaps the unicorn and forms the shape of a large seven.

The large and powerful unicorn signifies strength. This mythological animal was virtually invincible in battle. The blue field behind the unicorn stands for fidelity and relates the Seventh Squadron to the Air Force. The gold border stands for valor and its golden rewards. The seven, shaped from a lightning bolt, symbolizes the speed with which the Air Force strikes in battle.

This is the original squadron patch.

Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 8[edit]

The patch, a large white circle bordered in dark blue, shows a multicolored F-15 Eagle in its center. "EAGLE" is printed in dark blue across the top of the aircraft. A dark blue "8" is at the bottom. Four stars—colored gold, blue, silver, and red—sit on the right-hand side of the emblem.

The Eighth Squadron chose the F-15 for its emblem for two reasons: The F-15 was the newest interceptor in the Air Force inventory, and the words eagle and eight begin with the same letter. The ghost gray color, along with the plane’s leading edge, is the color used by the Air Force Aggressor squadrons. The four colored stars represent the four classes at the academy. The patch symbolizes Eighth Squadron’s aggressiveness in intercepting and destroying its enemies.

This fourth patch worn by the squadron was approved in July 1975.

Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 9[edit]

The patch is an octagonal-shaped emblem. Within it, a Viking ship sails away on a bright orange-rayed sun in the background. A royal blue flag flies from a mast stretching upward from the deck of the ship. "VIKING," printed in royal blue, is to the left of the flag. A large white sail, bordered in black, billows from the mast. The Roman numeral "IX" is centered on the sail. The keep of the ship has the design of a green dragon.

The "IX" represents the Ninth Cadet Squadron. The dragon symbolizes the power and tenacity that characterized the Vikings, early explorers of the vast seas. The Vikings often sought adventure and were courageous in their exploration of uncharted lands around the globe.

This third patch in the squadron’s history was approved for wear in January 1978.

Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 10[edit]

The patch is a circle of sky blue bordered in black. It shows the head of snarling tiger at its center. Four white lightning bolts spring from the tiger’s head. A white cloud sits immediately above the tiger’s head, and a white Arabic numeral "10" is at the bottom of the patch.

The tiger, the supreme symbol of tenacity and aggressiveness, was chosen by the 10th Squadron to symbolize the tradition of the Flying Tigers of World War II. The lightning bolts and cloud symbolize power and the horizons open to members of the squadron.

This is the original squadron patch. There may be a distinct color variation—a dark blue background—on one version.

Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 11[edit]

"RebEleven" is the first squadron in Cadet Group Two.

The squadron's patch consists of a white equilateral triangle, bordered in red, superimposed on a circular blue field. A red Arabic numeral "11" sits on silver prop and wings at the center.[3]

The triangle superimposed upon the circle is borrowed from the 6th Bomb Wing, the original squadron sponsor. The triangle represents the Greek letter delta to remind all wearers that each new group of fourth classmen was assigned to Delta Squadron during basic cadet training. The three segments of the circle represent academics, athletics and military training. The silver prop and wings symbolize the cadet wing, while the large "11" identified the 11th Cadet Squadron. The emblem bears the squadron's red and white colors; the gold, blue, silver and red class colors; and the cadet wing's blue and silver colors.

Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 20[edit]

"Tough Twenty Trolls" is the tenth squadron in Cadet Group Two.

The patch is a royal blue circle bordered in black. An aggressive, strong Troll stands in the middle. The green Troll wears black trousers highlighted in violet. He is striding forward, stepping over the bright red three dimensional Roman numeral "XX." "TROLLS" is inscribed behind the troll. In Scandinavian folklore Trolls were supernatural giants who lived in the mountains. The 20th Squadron‘s Troll, a robust character, symbolizes the aggressiveness and confidence of the squadron. It also symbolizes the desire to succeed while simultaneously maintaining a good attitude and sense of humor. The three dimensional nature of the Roman numeral and the word "TROLLS" signify enduring spirit. The areas of the patch surrounding the Troll contains the four class colors. This patch (Twentieth Squadron's second) was adopted in 1972.

Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 31[edit]

"Grim Reapers" is the first squadron in Cadet Group Four.

The squadron patch was approved in 1972 and features a turquoise circle bordered in black. "Grim Reaper" holds the gold "XXXI" by a chain in his right hand and a scythe in his left. The eponymous mythical character represented on the patch is borrowed from the insignia of the 13th Bomb Squadron and is emblematic of the reality of death in war, with which all aspiring warriors must come to terms. The patch has been challenged multiple times in the history of the squadron but has always survived due to its strong lineage and the support of the Cadet Wing at large.

Air Force Cadet Wing Squadron 39[edit]

"Jedi Knights" is the ninth squadron in Cadet Group Four.

The squadron patch features an X-wing fighter centered on a galactic background and bordered by red. The patch has alternated throughout the history of the squadron, switching to and from the "Radicals" version due to copyright laws. The patch was most recently reverted to the Jedi Knights version as of Fall 2015 with the sale of Star Wars to the Walt Disney Company.


See main article Cadet Wing Commander (AFCW/CC) for more information.

  • Fall 2016: C/Col Sara J. Fishbein (2017)
  • Spring 2016: C/Col Kristov S. George (2016)
  • Fall 2015: C/Col Mark A. Caldwell Jr (2016)
  • Spring 2015: C/Col Sophia Vasiliadis (2015)
  • Fall 2014: C/Col Jake M. Sortor (2015)
  • Spring 2014: C/Col Reuben Luoma-Overstreet (2014)[4]
  • Fall 2013: C/Col Moranda A. Hern (2014)[5]
  • Spring 2013: C/Col Joshua Williams (2013)
  • Fall 2012: C/Col Danial Zotto (2013)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Although the official literature from the Academy still uses the word "doolie" extensively, the term was never particularly popular with cadets and fell into disuse. The term used more often is "SMACK" — originally a nonspecific derogatory term, but now a backronym for "Soldier Minus Ability Courage and Knowledge" or "Soldier Minus Ability Coordination and Knowledge." Other terms for fourth class cadets include "Squat," "Wad," "Tool," and "Wedge" (the simplest tool.) Don Hall, Class of '76, created the popular character "Waldo F. Dumbsquat, whose Svejk-like innocence and good intentions overcome his abysmal ineptitude.
  2. ^ The "degree" terminology comes from a generic ordinal indicator used for classes in the early years of the Academy — for example, "2°" was read as "second class." In recent years, "degree" has been further shortened to "dig", as in "4 digs", "3 digs", etc.
  3. ^ a b c d "Squadron Insignia of the United States Air Force Academy", P. Michael Sheridan, Library of Congress Catalog Number: 90-62369
  4. ^ USAF, Academy. "Cadet Wing commander: Cadet 1st Class Reuben Luoma-Overstreet chats about priorities, leadership". http://www.usafa.af.mil/. USAF. Retrieved 10 October 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  5. ^ USAF, Academy. "Cadet balances academics, military roles". http://www.usafa.af.mil. USAF. Retrieved 10 October 2014.  External link in |website= (help)