The cadet exemplar program is both a leadership development and heritage education program. It is designed to provide a role model—in the form of an aerospace leader of the past—for cadets of each class to emulate. It is also meant to instill pride and provide a connection to our Nation’s Air Force heritage. As this instruction outlines below, each cadet class will form an exemplar committee, nominate and select an exemplar, and then maintain their identity with that exemplar through a class-wide exemplar dinner, an exemplar display case, and other activities throughout the class’s tenure at the US Air Force Academy.

Selection Criteria

  • Exemplar nominees will be chosen from military officers, military-associated civilians and aerospace or aviation pioneers/leaders.  2 USAFAI36-3539 24 JULY 2013
  • Nominees will have made an extraordinary contribution to the development of American air and space power.
  • Nominees must be deceased. The facts of their lives should in the main be transparent and known.
  • Nominees must have exhibited integrity and character in both their professional careers and their personal lives.

USAFA Class Exemplars

Since the Class of 2000, each class has chosen someone who "exemplifies" the type of person the class wishes to emulate.

2000: General James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle

2001: Brigadier General William "Billy" Mitchell

2002: Captain Lance P. Sijan

2003: Major Richard I. Bong

2004: Captain Eddie Rickenbacker

2005: General George S. Patton Jr.

2006: General Carl A. "Tooey" Spaatz

2007: Lieutenant Colonel Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom

2008: 1LT Karl W. Ritcher

2009: Colonel Hubert "Hub" Zemke

2010: 2Lt Frank Luke Jr.

2011: Brigadier General Robin Olds

2012: General of the AF Henry H. "Hap" Arnold

2013: General Curtis E. Lemay

2014: Lieutenant Colonel Jay Zeamer Jr.

2015: Wilbur and Orville Wright

2016: Major David Brodeur

2017: Col. George Everett "Bud" Day

2018: Capt. Louis Zamperini

2019: Neil Armstrong

2020: 1st Lt. Robert "Bob" Hoover