HomeNewsArticle Display

Snelson speaks candidly to SUPT 19-02

Col. Stephen Snelson, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander, Macdill Air Force Base, Florida, speaks at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 19-02’s graduation Nov. 16, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. He told the class not to back down from changing and innovating in the face of unwilling superiors, he asked them to be bold and strive for the best they can do at all times, and the final point he explained was to pick their heads up and appreciate what they are doing and what they have done. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Col. Stephen Snelson, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander, Macdill Air Force Base, Florida, speaks at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 19-02’s graduation Nov. 16, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. He told the class not to back down from changing and innovating in the face of unwilling superiors, he asked them to be bold and strive for the best they can do at all times, and the final point he explained was to pick their heads up and appreciate what they are doing and what they have done. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 19-02 students attempt to break their first set of silver wings during their graduation Nov. 16, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. At the end of every graduation the pilots break their first set of wings as tradition promoting good luck throughout their flying career. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 19-02 students attempt to break their first set of silver wings during their graduation Nov. 16, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. At the end of every graduation the pilots break their first set of wings as tradition promoting good luck throughout their flying career. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Col. Stephen Snelson, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander, Macdill Air Force Base, Florida, spoke at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 19-02’s graduation Nov. 16, here.

Snelson gave three words of advice to the pilots before him, three things he said he wished he was told before learning them the hard way.

He told the class not to back down from changing and innovating in the face of unwilling superiors, he asked them to be bold and strive for the best they can do at all times, and the final point he explained was to pick their heads up and appreciate what they are doing and what they have done.

“Gen. David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright, almost every time they speak, they tell Airmen to be innovative, bold, and to push back on things that don’t make sense,” Snelson said after his speech. “The world is evolving, our adversaries are evolving, and we need to evolve as well.”

He integrated senior leadership’s messages with his own message, but has noticed the positive changes taking place from the beginning of Airmen’s careers.

“When I fly with these brand new graduates, it’s remarkable how professional and exacting they are,” Snelson said. “I don’t think I had reached that level of expertise or precision until later in my career. Their innate understanding of their role in our Air Force is also much better today and I think that is because of the leadership at pilot training.”

Even though the pilots he is working with are doing well overall, it doesn’t’ change the importance of the core values. He said integrity is, in his eyes, the best core value to uphold and one attribute every Airmen can continue to work on.

“Integrity is the foundation for the other attributes of being in the Air Force,” Snelson said. “Being an Airmen first and having that foundation, we can trust our Airmen in any career field to go out there and do their jobs, to lead their wingmen and to take care of their wingmen. That’s why I see integrity as the most important trait for young Airmen to carry into their first assignments.”

Snelson also said these military aviators are carrying a lot more than their hard work and great abilities, they are bringing an energy and uplifting many people they interact with.

“When you stop to pause at an event like this; you see these Airmen and how hard they worked, you see the potential in the room today, and for me that is just so invigorating,” Snelson said. “I wish I could speak at all of these graduations because it was fantastic.”

One of the last words Snelson had for SUPT Class 19-02 was a charge of responsibility.

“I challenge these new pilots to change those faulty processes and to not be complacent in the status quo,” Snelson said. “We need to think of solutions to stay ahead of our enemies and be the best Air Force we can be.”