Red Tag Bastards (aka RTB) is a nickname used for every red-colored class year of cadets at the United States Air Force Academy. Each class year is assigned one of four rotating colors – yellow, blue, silver, and red, in that order – to identify it, the new incoming class being assigned the color of the last graduating class. The "Red Tag" comes from the bright red "Remove Before Flight" tags hung from dysfunctional parts on grounded military aircraft. The epithet originated in 1962 as an insult, but it stuck nonetheless.
Each class as Basic Cadets during Basic Cadet Training sports their official color on their USAFA-issued lanyards, belts, and caps. The upperclassmen who train the Basic Cadets wear berets of their official class color during the Basic Cadet Training and during certain parades.
The official colors of USAFA are Air Force blue and silver. The first graduating Class of 1955 was given Air Force blue for its class color. The Class of 1956 was given silver (nominally gray). The third-ever incoming Class of 1957 from USAFA was designated the gold (or yellow) class. The first class of cadets to receive the "Red Tag Bastards" moniker was the Class of 1958. When the '58 cadets were commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants and graduated as the outgoing class, the incoming Class of 1962 was rotated in with the color red. When the '62 cadets graduated, the incoming Class of 1966 was assigned the color red. The classes of 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, and 2022 are "Red Tag Bastards".
The coveted color among the cadets is Air Force blue, and it is referenced and reverenced in the traditional nickname for the Cadet Wing as "The Long Blue Line".
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