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Tuck welcomes new class of Air Force aviators

Lt. Gen. GI Tuck, 18th Air Force commander, speaks to Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-09 during their graduation ceremony May 18, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. More than half of the 18-09 class will be flying aircraft in Tuck’s command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Melissa Dublin)

Lt. Gen. GI Tuck, 18th Air Force commander, speaks to Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-09 during their graduation ceremony May 18, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. More than half of the 18-09 class will be flying aircraft in Tuck’s command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Melissa Dublin)

Lt. Gen. GI Tuck, 18th Air Force commander, speaks with student pilots in the 48th Flying Training Squadron May 17, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Tuck went around Columbus AFB to see the pilot training mission before speaking at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-09’s graduation ceremony May 18. (U.S. Air Force photo by Elizabeth Owens)

Lt. Gen. GI Tuck, 18th Air Force commander, speaks with student pilots in the 48th Flying Training Squadron May 17, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Tuck went around Columbus AFB to see the pilot training mission before speaking at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-09’s graduation ceremony May 18. (U.S. Air Force photo by Elizabeth Owens)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Lt. Gen. GI Tuck, 18th Air Force commander, spoke to Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-09 during their graduation May 18 on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.

Tuck flew in from Scott AFB, Illinois, to speak in front of an Air Force pilot graduating class for the first time. He said he was thankful to Air Education and Training Command and the 14th Flying Training Wing for making it possible.

“I’m honored to be here today,” he said. “This has been a work in the making for me, for at least about six months to get to this class … I can’t thank you enough for allowing me to be on this stage today.”

He thanked everyone in the audience with a sincere appreciation for supporting the brand new pilots up to this point in their career and assured they will go on to do even bigger and better things after wings are pinned on their chest.

Tuck spoke about the importance of keeping goals in mind and finding the best of every situation. Then he began to speak about a very important word in every aspect of military aviation and leadership -credibility.

“Credibility, your word’s going to matter,” Tuck said to the students. “When you say you’re going to do something, I’m asking you to do it. It’s vitally important you come through with that and I hope that you know what you say as an officer in our Air Force matters.”

Tuck said their knowledge and credibility can and will be used to make tactical and impactful decisions throughout their career from training environments to joint combat environments overseas.

“From the first six months to a year at your first unit, what kind of officer are you going to be,” he questioned the students. “What kind of aviator are you going to be? I hope you carry away the traditions you learned here … it’s important you keep the power and the gas up and be the best that you can be.”

He said each pilot will have to hold themselves accountable and earn their credibility through their work as well as their ability to succeed in every task before them.

“It doesn’t really end here, a graduation is the start of something new,” he said. “For [the 25 new pilots] it’s about making a difference in the next job they go to, being credible in their craft, and not wanting to let up on the gas.”

He said he doesn’t want any graduating pilot to lose their work ethic they showed during pilot training, because if they continue to be their best, they will be able to solve issues more efficiently because their preparation and ability will take over.

“It was just powerful today to see the smiles of Airmen receiving their wings and knowing you got to participate in that,” Tuck said. “For me, it’s about mentoring, building up the leaders behind me, so when I retire … I know I’m turning over what we have been doing in this Air Force to a great team.”