ACC commander to pilot graduates ‘Your country needs you, the Air Force needs you’

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jake Jacobsen
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

The Air Force successfully graduated 22 professional military pilots Jan. 24, at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, where the mission is to train future pilots for the Air Force.

Gen. Mike Holmes, the commander of Air Combat Command, was the guest speaker at the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-06/07’s graduation ceremony. He spoke of the skills and code of ethics involved with being a military pilot.

“It is humbling to offer these new pilots advice,” Holmes said. “We face hard problems that don’t have simple answers, and that is why we are looking for Airmen who will stay with the problem until it is worked out.”

Holmes talked about the Air Force core values and how they implant trust into each Airman with the integrity to do what is right. He commented how “excellence in all we do” means that the words “good enough” no longer apply, because only the best is expected. Finally, “service before self” means not only accomplishing the fun parts of the job but also the hard parts.

Holmes said the reason he joined the Air Force was to do something different, not just for a paycheck, and because he had a strong desire to fly. After he earned his wings, he pursued opportunities in the Air Force and said he enjoyed the challenges he’s faced and overcome.

To stress the importance of the job and provide some perspective to how crucial pilots are to the Air Force, Col. Samantha Weeks, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, highlighted that the percentage of the U.S. population serving the military is about 1 percent, and the percentage of pilots is much less.

“Your country needs you, the Air Force needs you, and your teammates on the ground and at sea will need you for years to come,” Holmes said.

The last piece of advice given by Holmes was to be kind, for everyone is facing their own battle. He told the graduates to earn their teammates’ trust, and faithfully serve.

“Say yes instead of no, (and) be accountable for each other,” Holmes said. “Take care of each other and face the challenges the Air Force presents you with.”

Now graduated, each pilot will depart to their new respective bases to fly aircraft such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, C-17 Globemaster III, F-35 Lightning II, KC-135 Stratotanker, and more. Some of the graduates were also assigned to be First Assignment Instructor Pilots tasked with training future SUPT classes on Columbus AFB.