COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Col. Daniel McDonough, 182nd Airlift Wing commander, Peoria Air National Guard Base, Illinois, spoke at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-15’s graduation Sept. 28, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.
As McDonough greeted the audience and expressed his excitement to speak at a pilot graduation, he recalled his graduation day and told graduates there is an important reason why he is speaking before they receive their coveted Silver Wings.
“If you are like me when I first got [my Silver Wings], I couldn’t help but stare at them,” McDonough said. “We’ll go through the speech first because once you get your Silver Wings in your hands that’s all you will focus on.”
McDonough started his speech by telling the graduates how they are a part of the Air Force during a great time in its history. He talked about how the National Defense Strategy is switching from counter-insurgency tactics to fighting a uniformed enemy. He said the Air Force is expected to grow and change.
“The Air Force Chief of Staff we have right now is focusing on lethality and readiness,” McDonough said. “If it doesn’t support the National Defense Strategy, we’re not doing it. He said it last week, we are getting rid of the ‘queep.’”
He then spoke about life in the Air Force. He explained that he has worked as a civilian pilot, but he is now back working full-time for the Air Force and couldn’t be happier.
“Normally I tell people I have the greatest job in the Air Force, but today I would say you guys do,” McDonough said. “Think about it, you were paying to fly a ‘bug smasher’ and now we are going pay you to fly one of these awesome airplanes.”
McDonough continued his speech by reminded the new pilots that their training isn’t over. He said when they reach their next base, they will have to keep the discipline and self-motivation they learned in SUPT and use it to continue to keep being the best they can be.
Among the 10 graduates in attendance, one of them will be under McDonough’s command. McDonough singled-out Maj. Justin Childers for his hard work and persistence. He told the audience the story about how he told Childers he was going to SUPT at his wedding.
To wrap up his speech, McDonough congratulated the graduates and thanked the families for being supportive. He also wanted the graduates to know that they didn’t make it here alone and thanked Team BLAZE for ensuring the graduates had the opportunity to become the next generation of Air Force aviators.