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Air Force Academy Leader Warns Cadets

August 28, 2003

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) _ An Air Force Academy commander warned the school’s 4,000 students Thursday that misconduct by cadets has tarnished the academy’s reputation and threatens its very existence.

During his 20-minute speech, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida held a sword, saying he brought it to remind the cadets of why they are at the academy.

``Some among us have rusted this sword,″ he said.

The speech comes less than a week after seven male cadets were caught in an off-campus hotel room with two high school girls. The girls, ages 16 and 18, were ticketed for underage drinking along with three of the cadets.

About 2,000 cadets were in the auditorium and others watched Weida’s speech on closed-circuit television in their dorm rooms.

``We are warriors,″ he said. ``If we don’t reverse this trend, the very existence of this institution is threatened. ... Together, we will fix this.″

Weida said cadets who fail to follow the honor code and help solve the problem will not remain at the school. Cadets will be expected to identify fellow cadets who violate standards of conduct and honor, he said.

The academy was rocked earlier this year by a sexual assault scandal involving scores of female cadets. Some commanders were ousted after female cadets who complained of being assaulted by fellow students said they were ostracized.

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