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Academy training is tough but professional

Letters to the Editor
Published August 22, 2005

Re : Academy introduction harsh , Aug. 16

I'd like to set the record straight on several statements made in the article.

In his effort to convey how tough basic cadet training is at the U.S. Air Force Academy - and, unquestionably, it is extremely challenging - I'm afraid the cadet may have overstated some of the events that he "experienced" during his first summer here. That's certainly understandable given that he probably often relied on thirdhand reports and rumors from his classmates for some of his information and examples.

He commented on cadets' throats and noses burning during a 5-mile, nighttime run, attributing the condition to lingering tear gas from earlier operations. Although we do, in fact, use tear gas during our chemical warfare protection training, it was not used during basic training. The burning was more likely the result of dust, the very dry Colorado air, remnants of smoke grenades or a combination of any of the above.

Regarding attrition of his classmates during basic cadet training - including the statement that "Eight kids didn't even get off the bus during in-processing" - here are the real numbers for the Class of 2009: 1,390 basic cadets showed up for in-processing June 30. Of those, 1,307 remain as of Thursday.

Eighty-three cadets (62 men and 21 women) have departed the academy for a variety of reasons, including "environmental adjustment" (i.e., 50 decided they weren't cut out to be cadets or to succeed in military service); six were here for the wrong reasons (e.g., they were pressured to come here by family or friends rather than being here by their own, personal choices); four were medically discharged; and 23 became "turnbacks" for medical or administrative reasons (which, if corrected, will allow them to return to the academy as members of the Class of 2010 next summer, if they so desire).

Among those who departed were eight recruited athletes, two of whom were football players.

By the way, everyone who got on the buses at the beginning of in-processing got off those same buses to meet the training cadre in the cadet area to begin their six weeks of summer training.

Blisters are a big problem given all the marching, running, climbing and crawling our basics are required to do. The problem is often exacerbated when the new cadets don't heed advice to break in their combat boots before they arrive at the academy, or if they don't take the time to properly don their socks and lace up their boots.

Finally, no defibrillators were used on any member of the Class of 2009 during basic training (or since, for that matter). Several basic cadets did, in fact, collapse while running the assault course - quite likely the most physically demanding aspect of their summer training - but all were returned to training after a short rest and rehydration.

Air Force Academy basic cadet training is intentionally very challenging: Our goal is to make it tough but professional. Yes, unfortunately, there are occasional injuries and cadets who leave for myriad reasons. But those who make it through the first summer here, then apply themselves throughout their four-year cadet experience, will graduate as young men and women of character who go on to lead America's Air Force into the 21st century.

-- Johnny Whitaker, director of communications, U.S. Air Force Academy

Most sex offenders deserve a second chance from society

Re: Sex offender should remain under punishment , Aug. 16 letter

Just how long should sex offenders remain under punishment? How long should someone who looked at pornography over the Internet, for instance, be punished? There is a difference between sex offender and sexual predator, but it seems everyone wants to lump them into one category and ship them out of the country or keep them locked up.

The vast majority of sex offenders have committed one crime only, have paid the price and are of absolutely no danger to anyone. I am talking of sex offenders, not predators.

Don't they deserve a second chance? Society is very unforgiving. Not very Christianlike, is it?

-- Rosalie Larrow, Port Richey

State should give homeowners a break on insurance rates

Citizens wants a 7 percent increase for all plus more increases on all Florida homeowners. As a Florida homeowner, my insurance has already been raised by my company this year. I don't see why we should have to pay twice.

If I was insured by Citizens, I would pay only one time. What is wrong with our state Legislature? Instead of raising our rates, legislators should be looking for ways to reduce our rates. What happens to all the money we pay throughout the years and never file a claim?

-- Richard Fahey, Port Richey

[Last modified August 22, 2005, 12:21:17]

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