U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY — The U.S. Air Force Academy ‘s Sabre Drill Team is a club cadets say is an honor to be part of.
“There’s gotta be a desire. They want that discipline, they want to push themselves to be a little more disciplined,” said TSgt Max Soto, NCIO USAFA Sabre Drill Team
Founded in 1961, the Sabre Drill Team is made up of nearly 30 cadet members.
Their mission is to demonstrate professional military skills and discipline through performance with a saber.
“First, I mean you’re a little bit nervous, you don’t really know what you’re getting into. First couple days honestly, you really don’t even know who you’re next to,” said Cadet 1st Class Joe Belina, performance officer for the Sabre Drill Team.
Each freshman in the club is introduced to a saber right away.
“They’re pretty heavy, it’s made out of real steel. They’ll get some scrapes, they’ll knick themselves, nothing serious,” Soto said.
“I really thought I was out of my league, they jumped right into manual and I, for the life of me could not master the basics for the first week. You have to get used to the saber, but now it’s really natural and it’s a lot of fun once you get really good at it,” said Cadet 4th Class Reece Willmann.
Before a freshman can perform with the team, they must earn their first performance, showing their understanding of every move with the saber.
“Every movement is coordinated with a beat. So, once you get the timing perfect and you watch it on film, it kind of gives me shivers. It’s a great feeling when you get it just perfect and you can feel it going throughout the performance,” Willmann said.
The Sabre Drill Team meets every day for at least an hour to practice.
And cadets say the bond between them is everlasting.
“I’m closer with my teammates than some people on my squad, which is a big statement to make. It’s a family once you get on here, and working with each other, seeing each other’s mistakes, correcting them, it’s a great opportunity. It might be a struggle at first, but nothing good comes without a struggle,” Willmann added.
The team will travel throughout the country, performing for ceremonies, weddings, events, and competitions.
“We represent the United States Air Force you know, we are the only saber drill team in the country, especially in the United States Air Force, but when we go to the air shows and things like that, we don’t just represent the academy, we represent the United States Air Force. And that’s something we don’t take lightly,” Belina said.