Class 22-15 takes off; Lt. Gen. Pleus commends graduates

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jake Jacobsen
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
After more than a year at Columbus Air Force Base, graduates of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 22-15 walked across the stage and received their diplomas, September 9, 2022, in front of family and friends.

Lt. Gen. Scott Pleus, Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces Korea; Commander, Air Component Command, United Nations Command; Commander, Air Component Command, Combined Forces Command; and Commander, Seventh Air Force, Pacific Air Forces, Osan Air Base, South Korea, attended the ceremony as the guest speaker and shared his insight with the Air Force’s newest aviators.

“Remain humble, always be credible, and always be approachable,” said Pleus. “I think these are the three keys that any military aviator should keep in their arsenal to have a successful career.”

Pleus underwent pilot training at Columbus AFB in 1990-1991 and is now a command pilot with more than 2,500 flying hours, including combat hours earned during operations Desert Fox and Southern Watch.

“The opportunity to come back and be a part of the graduation is something special and emphasizes on how important pilot training really is for the future of our nation,” said Pleus. “I’m a proud graduate of Columbus Air Force Base and the chance to return is a big deal to me.”

Reminiscing on his time as a graduate, Pleus recalled training experiences and how they impacted his career both from a professional standpoint as a senior leader to his technical skills as a military pilot.

“I learned a lot of from Columbus, especially the importance of community relations,” said Pleus. “The base always had an unbelievable relationship with the local community, and if you have something like that as a foundation you will find you can be quite successful in executing the mission.”

Columbus AFB is also tasked with the responsibility of training students from U.S. partner nations and sending them back to their respective countries with the tools and skills to succeed. Joining class 22-15 were 1st Lt. Tornike Tkemaladze, a graduate of the Aviation Leadership Training Program flying for the Republic of Georgia, and 1st Lt. Mohamed Zhani, an international student from Tunisia.

To recognize the unique international training partnership, the national anthem of each country was played in addition to the United States of America’s.

Three students from Class 22-15 were distinguished and recognized for their outstanding performance in academics, leadership, and flying abilities. The distinguished graduates were 1st Lt. Michael Smith, 2nd Lt. Benjamin Gaddy, and 2nd Lt. Destin Williams.

The ceremony ended with the traditional singing of the Air Force song followed by the departure of the official party and graduates.