Class of 2015, you are dismissed!

The U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2015 tosses their hats in celebration as The USAF Thunderbirds roar over Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 28, 2015. Over 800 cadets graduated and became 2d Lieutenants. Deborah Lee James, the Secretary of the Air Force gave the Graduation Address.  (Air Force photo by Liz Copan) (released)

The U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2015 tosses their hats in celebration as The USAF Thunderbirds roar over Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 28, 2015. Over 800 cadets graduated and became 2d Lieutenants. Deborah Lee James, the Secretary of the Air Force gave the Graduation Address. (Air Force photo by Liz Copan) (released)

I couldn’t be more proud of “my kids.”

I say my kids because four years ago I watched them; wide-eyed, insecure adolescents filled with a mixture of hope, fear, and uncertainty, “doolies,” some barely 18 years of age.

The U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2015 celebrates after sending their hats skyward as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds roared over Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 28, 2015. Over 800 cadets graduated and became 2d Lieutenants. Deborah Lee James, the Secretary of the Air Force gave the Graduation Address.  (Air Force photo by Liz Copan) (released)

Through my lens, I have watched them grow and mature into women and men of great strength, integrity, and character, who will one day be tasked with leading our country.

Among the newest batch of second lieutenants, 360 will directly attend pilot training, 89 will work in space and cyber space fields, 89 will attend graduate school and 44 will join nuclear missile operations.

I still have a difficult time parallel parking, let alone flying a fighter jet (which is amongst one of the many reasons I am an artist).

840 hats were tossed in the air, voices raised in celebration as the F-4 Thunderbirds echoed their roaring sentiments.

You’re not kids any longer, congratulations Class of 2015.
US Air Force Academy Class of 2015 Graduation
 

Take Back the Night 2015: ‘Shattering the Silence’

Cadet squadrons, athletic teams and other units here designed T-shirts campaigning against sexual violence, including slogans such as

Cadet squadrons, athletic teams and other units here designed T-shirts campaigning against sexual violence, including slogans such as “Hurts one, affects all,” “Stand up, speak out” and “H.O.P.E.– Hold on, pain ends” during the Academy’s second annual Take Back the Night event April 16, 2015 at the Cadet Field House and Clune Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Air Force photo/Liz Copan)

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Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James provided opening remarks.

Nearly 400 red glow sticks glisten to represent the number of sexual assault victims here in the last 10 years, at the Academy's second annual Take Back the Night event April 16. Cadets heard messages from Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Katie Koestner, the first survivor of date rape to speak out nationally. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Liz Copan)

Nearly 400 red glow sticks glisten to represent the number of sexual assault victims here in the last 10 years, at the Academy’s second annual Take Back the Night event April 16. Cadets heard messages from Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Katie Koestner, the first survivor of date rape to speak out nationally. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Liz Copan)

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Springtime at Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs, CO

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morning embers of the sun dance on the waters of Hanging Lake (photo/Liz Copan)

 

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Air Force Drops 1-0 Match To Seattle

Air Force men’s soccer dropped a 1-0 match to Seattle U in Western Athletic Conference action on Senior Day October 26, 2014 at the Cadet Soccer Stadium. The Falcons (6-5-4, 2-4-1 WAC) allowed the lone goal of the match to the Redhawks (8-5-1, 3-2-1 WAC) in the 22nd minute.

http://www.goairforcefalcons.com/sports/m-soccer/recaps/102614aab.html
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11-08-14 Historical Weapons & Remote Shooting

On Saturday November 8, Ray and I accompanied LTC Nathan Watanabe and Lt Col David Bachler with the US Air Force Academy’s History Club to the POW (Privately Owned Weapons) Shooting Range on Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo. to document historical weapons in action.

Weapons ranging from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam era were demonstrated on November 8, 2014 by the Air Force Academy's History Club at Fort Carson, Colo. (photo by Studio Copan)

Weapons ranging from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam era were demonstrated on November 8, 2014 by the Air Force Academy’s History Club at Fort Carson, Colo. (photo by Studio Copan)

It was the first time we had experimented with remote camera controls, but to our delight, the CamRanger performed beautifully and allowed us to capture areas that were certainly off limits during the live fire.

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When I photographed the history club’s Historical Weapons Live Fire back in 2012, I was restricted to photographing from behind the line of fire due to safety reasons.
With the CamRanger, we were able to hook up the Canon 7D with 300mm f 2.8 lens (and pray that no stray bullets took it to an early grave) while remotely controlling the camera from a smartphone.

 

Liz Copan (left) photographs from close range while Ray Kaltenbach (center) controls the Canon 7D remotely from his smartphone using the CamRanger

Liz Copan (left) photographs from close range while Ray Kaltenbach (center) controls the Canon 7D remotely from his smartphone using the CamRanger

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notice the camera perched safely on the ridge

 

 

 

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Veteran’s Day — Recognizing our Heroes

Despite being bombarded by advertisements, promotions and “too big to miss sales events,” today is November 11, 2014 and it is Veteran’s Day once again. This day is one of the few times out of a busy year the general public acknowledges the sacrifices and contributions our service members have made (or in the retail industry, a new sales flyer and some flashy graphics).

Patriot Guard Rider Daniel Cisneros holds a flag as the casket of Capt. Ryan P. Hall arrives at the Shrine of Remembrance in Colorado Springs, CO on March 9th, 2012. Members of The Patriot Guard Riders escorted the body of Capt. Hall from Peterson Air Force Base to the Shrine of Remembrance.  Capt. Hall died Feb. 18th, 2012 when his U-28A was involved in an accident near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa. (US Air Force Photo/Liz Copan)

Patriot Guard Rider Daniel Cisneros holds a flag as the casket of Capt. Ryan P. Hall arrives at the Shrine of Remembrance in Colorado Springs, CO on March 9th, 2012. Members of The Patriot Guard Riders escorted the body of Capt. Hall from Peterson Air Force Base to the Shrine of Remembrance. Capt. Hall died Feb. 18th, 2012 when his U-28A was involved in an accident near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa. (US Air Force Photo/Liz Copan)

I am privileged to work with these remarkable men and women every day, and I can tell you it is truly an honor to have them enrich the tapestry of our legacy with their service.

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Never to be ridden by its owner again, the motorcycle belonging to Capt David I. Lyon is parked for the funeral of the 2008 Air Force Academy graduate who was killed in Afghanistan on December 27, 2013. Lyon was buried in the USAFA cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colo. January 8, 2014. (Air Force photo/Liz Copan 

We ask so much from them, much more than most of us are willing to give of ourselves. As Americans, we have been conditioned to presume our liberties and freedom will always be there. Even I often take it for granted that there will be someone else to fight for it.

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Funeral service for LtCol Morris “Moose” M Fontenot Jr on Oct 3, 2014 at the Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colo.

So please, the next time you see a veteran (yes, even the less glamorized former heroes, dejected, crusty, and seemingly defeated begging for change outside of your local WalMart) remember that their service and story matters.

Their sacrifices matter.

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Members of the Colorado Patriot Guard Riders await the casket of LtCol Morris “Moose” M Fontenot Jr on Oct 3, 2014 at the Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colo. Fontenot died Aug. 27 when his F-15 crashed near the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia. A 1996 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, he had most recently served as commander of the 67th Fighter Squadron based in Kadena Air Force Base in Japan. He served as a squadron commander at multiple locations. Following active-duty assignments in Washington, D.C., Japan, Idaho, Florida, Alaska and numerous deployments in the Middle East, Fontenot joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February. He had more than 2,300 flying hours, including 240 combat hours. His decorations included a Meritorious Service Medal, an Air Medal, an Aerial Achievement Medal, an Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal and Combat Readiness Medal. (Air Force photo/Liz Copan)

USAFA Swimming vs. Colorado Mesa & Colorado School of Mines

The Air Force men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams swept a pair of dual meets Friday Oct. 24, 2014 at the Academy’s Cadet Natatorium. The men beat Colorado School of Mines (126.00-101.00) and Colorado Mesa (124.00-109.00). The women also beat Colorado School of Mines (130.00-83.00) and Colorado Mesa (118.00-111.00).

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EMC0147 - Junior Leah Weber competes in the women's 200 yard individual medley race on Oct. 24, 2014

Junior Leah Weber competes in the women’s 200 yard individual medley race on Oct. 24, 2014

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Leah Weber

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Wounded Warrior Training – September 2014

 

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Retired SSgt Tatiana Perkins enlisted in the Air Force Reserve as an engineering assistant in May 2001. On 12 May 2006, Perkins was involved in a motorcycle accident on her way to work that resulted in complete paralysis of her right arm. After living with a flail right arm for 8 years, she made the decision to have a transhumeral amputation on 21 May 2014 so that she may explore the many growing options of upper extremity prosthetics. (US Air Force photo/Liz Copan)

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Tatiana Perkins practices at the Air Force Academy Community Center Base Gym in Colorado Springs, Colo. on September 24, 2014. Perkins is one of 50 Air Force Wounded Warrior athletes conducting their final training sessions at the Academy prior to competing in the upcoming Warrior Games Sept. 28 through Oct. 4, 2014. (US Air Force photo/Liz Copan)

  Air Force Wounded Warrior athletes conduct their final training sessions at the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. prior to competing in the Invictus Games in London Sept. 10-14 and the Warrior Games Sept. 28 through Oct. 4, 2014.

Founded in 2010, the Games are designed to introduce wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans to adaptive sports and encourage them to stay physically active.

The United States Olympic Committee and Deloitte announced that the Warrior Games will be held
in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sept. 28-Oct. 4, 2014. In addition to Deloitte, the presenting sponsor,
the six-day event is also supported by the Department of Defense, AT&T, BP, Dow, Semper Fi Fund,
The Fisher House Foundation, The Daniels Fund and USO.

More than 200 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans are expected to participate
in 2014. They will comprise five U.S. teams representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy/Coast
Guard, Air Force and Special Operations. Teams will compete in seven sports including archery,
cycling, shooting, sitting-volleyball, swimming, track & field and wheelchair basketball.

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Retired SSgt Nicholas Dadgostar practices for the sitting volleyball tournament on September 24, 2014.

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TSgt Lara Ishikawa (left) TSgt Leonard Anderson (right). (US Air Force photo/Liz Copan)

AFA Football vs. New Mexico 10-18-2014

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The U.S. Air Force Academy football team and head coach Troy Calhoun rush the field on October 18, 2014 where the Falcons met the New Mexico Lobos at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Falcons defeated the Lobos 35 to 31. (U.S. Air Force photo/Liz Copan)

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New Mexico quarterback Cole Gautsche is stopped by Air Force’s defense and offensive lineman Andrew Ruechel.

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Air Force Academy’s Gavin McHenry breaks past the New Mexico Lobos defense.

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Air Force Volleyball vs. Winthrop

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Backed by a .309 hitting performance, the Air Force volleyball team opened the 2014 season with a 3-0 sweep of Winthrop on Friday, Aug. 29 2014 in Colorado Springs, Colo. Hosting the Falcon Classic, in Honor of Amy Svoboda, Air Force defeated the Eagles 25-22, 25-22, 25-22 in straight sets to improve to 2-0 in season openers at Falcon Court under head coach Matt McShane.

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Akokwe Clement

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Akokwe Clement (left) and Raquel Rosas (right)

Junior Maggie Sherrill led all players with 14 kills, while classmate Akokwe Clement added 13. Sherrill, who hit at a team-leading .444 clip, was one of four Falcons to produce averages over .300, as fellow juniors Taylor Parker and Raquel Rosas hit .400 and .375, respectively.
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