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Hicks motivates SUPT Class 18-02, gives words of advice

Brig. Gen. David W. Hicks speaks at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-02’s graduation Nov. 17, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Hicks is the Director of Strategy, Concepts, and Assessments, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Brig. Gen. David W. Hicks speaks at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-02’s graduation Nov. 17, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Hicks is the Director of Strategy, Concepts, and Assessments, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

The 14th Flying Training Wing leadership and Brig. Gen. David W. Hicks award members of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-02 with their coveted Air Force pilot wings Nov. 17, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Almost every three weeks a graduation ceremony takes place marking the end of pilot training for student pilots and the beginning of their career alongside some of the greatest aviators in the world. Hicks is the Director of Strategy, Concepts, and Assessments, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

The 14th Flying Training Wing leadership and Brig. Gen. David W. Hicks award members of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-02 with their coveted Air Force pilot wings Nov. 17, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Almost every three weeks a graduation ceremony takes place marking the end of pilot training for student pilots and the beginning of their career alongside some of the greatest aviators in the world. Hicks is the Director of Strategy, Concepts, and Assessments, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Brig. Gen. David Hicks, the Director of Strategy, Concepts, and Assessments, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C., flies in a T-38C Talon flight simulator, Nov. 17, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Hicks spoke at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-02’s graduation ceremony and took the rest of the day to learn about Columbus AFB and see the changes in pilot training since his time at Columbus AFB 27 years ago. (U.S. Air Force photo by Melissa Dublin)

Brig. Gen. David Hicks, the Director of Strategy, Concepts, and Assessments, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C., flies in a T-38C Talon flight simulator, Nov. 17, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Hicks spoke at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-02’s graduation ceremony and took the rest of the day to learn about Columbus AFB and see the changes in pilot training since his time at Columbus AFB 27 years ago. (U.S. Air Force photo by Melissa Dublin)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Brig. Gen. David W. Hicks, the Director of Strategy, Concepts, and Assessments, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C., spoke at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-02’s graduation ceremony Nov. 17 at the Kaye Auditorium here.

“Coming back in here yesterday was the first time in 27 years I’ve been back to Columbus Air Force Base,” Hicks said. “I really appreciate it and appreciate the invitation. It means a lot to me to be quite honest to see the future of the Air Force and have a chance to interact and engage with you a little bit.”

He then spoke about the importance of the new aviator’s families, instructor pilots and base organizations that helped support to get them where they are today. He also emphasized the significance of their work in their upcoming assignments.

Hicks reminded 18-02 that they must never stop learning to better themselves, others and the Air Force, because they are now taking on roles as leaders in the greatest Air Force in the world.

“What we do in the military is bigger than the Air Force, it’s bigger than being a pilot, it’s bigger than any job that we do,” Hicks said. “It’s more of a calling to serve your country, it’s a higher calling.”

When he was a young pilot he recalled wanting to be the best pilot he could be, graduating from Columbus AFB in SUPT 90-14. Over time, however, he learned how importance each group, squadron, and unit impacts the Air Force’s mission.

“There’s been plenty of job’s I’ve done in my career I hadn’t been particularly excited about doing,” he said. “Either job or location or whatever it may be, but if you take the mindset of ‘I’m going to do the best I can,’ it tends to work out.”

Before his career molded him into the general he is today, Hicks recalled the memories of past instructors, lessons, events and the one thing the military cultivates no matter where service member goes -- the comradery.

“The comradery that you have as an Air Force family transcends time, transcends distance, like no other profession,” Hicks said.

He said curiosity in new ideas and subjects pushed him to learn every day and made him the aviator and decision maker he is today, and he wants 18-02’s graduates to do the same.

He said the care he has for his peers and Airmen below him pushed him to become a better leader, and he wants the next generation of pilots to feel the same.

He acknowledged those who helped him reach the point he is at in his career today, and gives thanks to each individual who propelled him there, and encourages everyone to do the same.

After the speech Hicks visited some of the squadrons on base and talked with Airmen, giving him an opportunity to see the advancements of pilot training.