Van Herck speaks to SUPT 18-10

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Maj. Gen. Glen VanHerck, Vice Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, Joint Staff, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., spoke to Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-10 during their graduation June 8, 2018.

“You will be successful today if each of you can get one thing out of what I’m going to tell you,” VanHerck said. “First thing I’m going to tell you is this isn’t the end of your education as far as aviation … my flying training started 41 years ago as a teenager when I started flying. I was the son of a mom and dad who both were pilots … my education has continued through 30 years plus of military flying.”

He said our military aviators are most dangerous around 500 hours in one weapons system. He noted the silver wings on pilot’s chests are more of a license to learn continuously, not just a symbol of hard work to this point, but a symbol of always striving to do more.

“Over this last year, you have continued preparing each and every day for this moment right here,” he said. “Luck is something that requires a little bit of effort. … I would tell you if you wanted to be successful as a pilot, more importantly as an officer as you continue in our U.S. Air Force, that when opportunity knocks on the door you will always be fully dressed. You may only get a handful of opportunities to hear a knock on that door, so be ready, especially when it comes time for combat.”

He transitioned to his final points, his service doesn’t continue after 30 years because of the aircraft he flew or the power he held as he climbed the ranks, he cared about the people surrounding him. Other Air Force families sacrificing alongside him made his career what it is now and what taught him how this Air Force will continue to grow and succeed.

“I don’t consider myself a bomber pilot, a fighter pilot, or a trainer pilot, I consider myself an Airman,” VanHerck said. “We are Airman first.”

He told the story of his assignment night drop to the class, and explained how it took 11 months for his wife to open up to the idea of moving to Japan. He explained how the bonds they made there were so strong that his wife, who hadn’t wanted to even leave the U.S, now was sad to leave Japan. The sadness wasn’t because of their love for Japan or the aircraft, he said, it was because of the friends they had made and the memories they were leaving behind.

“It’s not about the planes and places,” VanHerck said. “It’s the faces.”

VanHerck said he remembers joining active duty and wanting to fly constantly, he said he used to think it was all about him and how he wanted to fly aircraft.

“I [later] realized why I served,” he said. “That’s when I really joined the Air Force. Prior to that, it was really all about me. I keep serving today because of Airmen just like you.”

He ended this point by speaking about how new Airmen and leaders in this Air Force will change things through innovation, courage and constructive criticism of those above and below them in rank.

“Courage is what you do when everyone’s watching,” he said. “Character is what you do when nobody is watching. We need leaders with character. You combine those two traits and you will go far with this nation, you will go far as a leader, you will go far as an officer.”