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14th FTW ushers in next generations of military aviators

Col. David Fazenbaker, 14th Flying Training Wing vice wing commander, speaks at the graduation ceremony for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-16/17 on June 12, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. After graduating pilot training at Columbus AFB, pilots will now go to their specified base to start training on their assigned aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keith Holcomb)

Col. David Fazenbaker, 14th Flying Training Wing vice wing commander, speaks at the graduation ceremony for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-16/17 on June 12, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. After graduating pilot training at Columbus AFB, pilots will now go to their specified base to start training on their assigned aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keith Holcomb)

Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-16/17 sit in the Kaye Auditorium during their graduation ceremony June 12, 2020, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The students endured a 53-week training program in order to earn the title of an Air Force pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keith Holcomb)

Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-16/17 sit in the Kaye Auditorium during their graduation ceremony June 12, 2020, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The students endured a 53-week training program in order to earn the title of an Air Force pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keith Holcomb)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Twenty student officers from the class of 20-16/17 graduated from Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training June 12, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, becoming a part of the newest generation of military aviators.

The ceremony began with remarks by Col. David Fazenbaker, 14th Flying Training Wing vice wing commander, followed by the playing of the national anthem and an invocation by Chaplain (Capt.) Paul Walker, 14th FTW Chaplain.

Fazenbaker began by asking for a round of applause to show appreciation for the people that made it possible for the graduating class to be there.

“I want to make sure we take the time to thank those that supported everyone to get where they are today,” Fazenbaker said. “To the families that are present and those not able to be here, thank you for instilling the values, moral and work ethic of each of the graduates who are walking across this stage today.”

He moved on to congratulating the graduating class on their accomplishments and for answering the nations call to action.

“Each of you play an important role in our national defense because in a few short months you will be defending our borders, projecting our power, engaging in combat and transporting vital equipment to the next fight,” said Fazenbaker.

Fazenbaker then talked about the Air Force in action and how each of the graduates are about to support that national defense in their respective aircraft.

Following Fazenbakers speech, Col. Tom McElhinney III, 14th Operations Group commander, assisted in announcing the graduates and their awards such as the Air Force Association award for those who excelled in training, the Air Education and Training Command Commanders Trophy for the most outstanding students overall in their classes, the distinguished graduates and more.

The 52-week pilot training program that the students go through begins with a six-week preflight phase of academics and physiological training to prepare students for flight. The second phase, primary training, is conducted in the single-engine, turboprop T-6A Texan II at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. In the third phase students select, by order of merit, advanced training in the fighter-bomber or airlift-tanker track.

Now graduated, each pilot will depart to their new respective bases to fly aircraft such as the 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.