COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Col. James Fisher, 14th Flying Training Wing Vice Commander, spoke here June 30 for the graduation of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 17-11.
The wing conducts specialized undergraduate pilot training for U.S. Air Force and allied officers, as well as tactical training for Afghan pilots and aircraft maintainers in the A-29 Super Tucano at Moody AFB, Georgia.
The wing at Columbus is composed of 234 aircraft that fly 54,000 sorties and over 75,000 hours per year to train over 400 pilots and combat system operators annually.
Since 2015, Fisher has helped create around 600 aviation experts for the U.S. Air Force.
Fisher began his speech by welcoming all those in attendance. Following his welcome he proceeded to ask the family and friends of the graduating class to stand so they could be acknowledged for their role in Class 17-11’s success.
“I really want to on behalf of my family, thank you for what you have done,” Fisher said. “None of these officers were able to arrive in the seats in which they now sit, had it not been for the foundation that you poured into these graduates.”
Congratulating the class, Fisher then jumped into the heart of his speech.
“I want to give you three themes that if you apply these and put these into your toolbox, they might serve you well down the road,” he said.
Outlining the three main points was to challenge themselves. Referring to their personal and professional lives, he said he wants them to consistently challenge themselves to be the best they can be. Fisher challenged the class to guard their wings, honor those who have sacrificed to get them to this point today and those who will sacrifice to get them off of the ground each and every day, and to, for however long they wear this uniform, do it to the best of their abilities.
Fisher expanded on each point before offering final remarks.
“I want to take a minute to thank you. Members of 17-11, each person in this class has volunteered for this duty,” Fisher said. “You have each taken a solemn oath and have made a commitment to our nation to defend it with your lives. You all have a full understanding of what that commitment might mean for you for your family or for your loved ones. I want to thank you on behalf of my family for what you have done and what you are about to do.”
This was Fisher’s last speech to any graduating class at Columbus AFB. After serving 25 years in the Air Force, and being stationed at Columbus AFB on three separate occasions throughout his career, Fisher will retire July 7.
After earning his education from Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi, he earned his wings as a pilot here in SUPT Class 97-04, later instructed in the T-1A Jayhawk aircraft here, and finished his career as the wing vice commander here, encountering many experiences with the base and community.
“I mean both of my kids were born here in my previous tours here,” Fisher said, “and being in a state around people you are comfortable with is an amazing opportunity, but additionally now being able to be a spokesman and a public face for people in the local community has been outstanding.”
The Airmen of Columbus Air Force Base thank Col. James Fisher for 25 years of service and commitment to this country.