“Footfalls”, an original painting by Rick Herter. The work was commissioned by the AOG in 1992 and subsequently purchased by the class of 1960 for display in Doolittle Hall.
A FRIENDS’ HERITAGE PROJECT, THE USAFA GRADUATE MEMORIAL WALL
In early 2006 a team of four USAFA graduates immersed themselves in the painstaking work of creating an interactive database of information pertaining to graduate combat losses. This multi-year heritage project supported by The Friends of The Academy Library reflects The Friends commitment to being a premiere Academy organization in recording and preserving the heritage of the Air Force Academy. The project’s continuing goal is to assemble all the available material dealing with the adult lives of the Air Force Academy graduates whose names are now or will be inscribed on the Academy’s Graduate Memorial Wall.
The Memorial Wall contains names of all graduates killed as a result of hostile action during a state of military conflict. The commemorated graduates range from the class of 1959 through the class of 2009, with the first USAFA graduate combat death occurring on October 24, 1964 (Valmore W. Bourque, ’60) and the most recent combat deaths occurring in 2012. The recent additions include: Lt. Roslyn Schulte, ’06, the first female graduate killed by enemy action; Lt. Col. Frank Bryant, ’95 and Maj. David Brodeur, ’99, who were both killed in Afghanistan, April 27, 2011; and Lt. Justin Wilkens, '09, who died near Djibouti, Africa, February 18, 2012.
The Association of Graduates (AOG) spear-headed the fund-raising efforts for the memorial and construction was completed in 1970. The Memorial Wall stands in the cadet area on the north end of the air gardens, facing the American Flag. It was formally presented to the Cadet Wing by the AOG on 10 October 1970 during homecoming.
A smaller replica of the Memorial Wall, donated by the Class of 1970, located adjacent to Doolittle Hall stands as a readily accessible reminder to graduates, visitors, new cadets, and their families of the ultimate sacrifice graduates have paid in service to their country. The simple inscription on the Memorial Wall “In memory of our fellow graduates who have fallen in battle …” reminds everyone of the devotion to duty and courage required of those called upon to serve their country.
The actual determination of which graduates are to be listed on the Memorial Wall is made by the Association of Graduates Board of Directors. Their decision is based on the following criteria:
- Graduates who died from direct hostile action.
- Graduates who died within an area of conflict as the result of an incident which was in direct support of the conflict.
- Graduates who died outside an area of conflict while directly supporting the activities within that area will be considered on an individual basis.
The AOG Board of Directors have currently selected 178 graduates to be listed on the Memorial Wall. A listing of the names, along with extensive background data on each individual, can be accessed by clicking here.
Team members, who spent an amazing number of volunteer hours on the project, are Jock Schwank, ’60 (Friends’ Treasurer); Andi Biancur, ’60 (Friends' Secretary) ; Dick Sexton, ’60; and, Dick Coppock, ‘61. Building on original work accomplished by Doug Johnson, Chief, Systems Management Office, McDermott Library, the team has collected, scanned, electronically filed and indexed more than 25,000 pages of written and photographic documentation thus far. Previously there was no central location for information about these graduates nor was much of the existing information readily accessible. The team relied on exceptional cooperation from the staffs of the Academy’s Association of Graduates and the McDermott Library Clark Special Collections Branch to make the project a reality.
The team has established procedures for updating these files as more information on Academy combat losses is acquired from additional sources and as names of other graduates are added to the Memorial Wall. If you have any information you wish the team to consider for inclusion in this data base, you may contact the team by email at The Friends: Contact Us Form
We encourage you to enjoy the fruits of this historic project. The Friends believe this project will have a lasting impact for decades to come - indeed as long as the Academy exists. Visit the wall.