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Air Force aware of, but not distracted by, looming war in Syria

August 31, 2013 Updated: August 31, 2013 at 7:50 pm
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photo - Air Force Academy cadets salute during the National Anthem before the 2013 season opener against Colgate Saturday, August 31, 2013 at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. Air Force beat Colgate 38-13. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette
Air Force Academy cadets salute during the National Anthem before the 2013 season opener against Colgate Saturday, August 31, 2013 at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. Air Force beat Colgate 38-13. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette 

Air Force is like most football teams in that it tightly guards against outside distractions.

But Air Force isn't like most football teams in all ways.

The Falcons learned while at the Rockrimmon Marriott that President Obama asked Congress to approve military action in Syria - essentially putting the United States on the verge of another armed conflict. The president's plan calls for no boots on the ground, meaning this will be an air offensive. Granted, no players from Air Force are going to be plucked away to fight in a war before graduation, but that is the ultimate mission of their time at the academy.

"Our guys have a little more than football always on their minds," coach Troy Calhoun said. "If you're going to be a leader, you've got to be aware."

The players mostly said the news was something they wouldn't give much thought until returning to class next week.

"On a Friday or Saturday, we're not worried about it," linebacker Joey Nichol said.

Added running back Jon Lee, "It's definitely something we have to know about, but I guess it's irrelevant to football right now."

Calhoun has coached players who are now serving as officers throughout the world and had no doubt they would be ready to perform anything asked of them.

Kicker Will Conant will one day be one of those officers, and he grew animated when addressing the situation.

"These are our teammates here on the football team," Conant said. "The people in our squadron, the people we go to school with every single day, go to class with, they're also our teammates. We've got to be there for each other. We're ready to go."

Or, as fullback Broam Hart put it, "The all-American response is, 'We're ready to serve our country.'"

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