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News > Silver wings run deep – recent SUPT graduate continues family tradition
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Steve Ball pins his old pilot wings on his daughter, 2nd Lt. Rebecca Ball as her brother, Lt. Col. Tony Ball, looks on in the Gene Smith Ceremonial Plaza following the SUPT Class 14-01 Graduation. Ball graduated on Friday, October 25 following her father and brother’s footsteps in serving in the Washington Air National Guard first as an enlisted member before receiving her commission and becoming a pilot. Lt. Col. Tony Ball also earned his wings at Columbus Air Force Base as a graduate of class 99-03. (U.S. Air Force Photo/2nd Lt. Cory Concha)
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Silver wings run deep - recent SUPT graduate continues family tradition

Posted 10/31/2013   Updated 10/31/2013 Email story   Print story


by 2nd Lt. Cory Concha
14th Student Squadron

10/31/2013 - COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, MISS. -- Recently the newly pinned Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training class of 14-01 included a graduate of deep roots.

2nd Lt. Rebecca Ball received her pilot wings today, celebrating with her father and brother, fellow prior-enlisted pilots, whose footsteps she has followed in.

"Some people are just born with that aviation bug," said 2nd Lt. Ball. Though the influence of two successful officers in the family cannot be denied "My dad and brother were great role models for me so I'm sure that had a lot of influence on my decision to come here."

The Ball family served as enlisted airmen in the Washington National Guard's 141st Air Refueling Wing before attending the Academy of Military Science, receiving their commissions and subsequent pilot training slots. Both Rebecca and her brother, Lt. Col. Tony Ball, were aircraft maintainers before completing their pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.

Ball's father, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Steve Ball, enlisted in the Air Force in 1966 and began his career as a flight simulator technician before being afforded the opportunity to receive his commission and attend navigator training. He eventually became a pilot after undergoing training at then Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas.

Despite receiving both an appointment to the Air Force Academy and acceptance into University of California at Berkeley, Becca decided to follow in her family members' footsteps and enlist in the National Guard before receiving her commission and attending SUPT here at Columbus AFB.

"It's the absolute best path you can take, in my opinion," said 2nd Lt. Ball, noting that her time as an enlisted member proved valuable to her knowledge as an officer. "It's really helpful in leadership and I think it's probably helped all three of us out in becoming officers."

Second Lt. Ball's brother Tony knows how competitive it is to earn the pilot slot that Rebecca did. "In our unit it's very difficult to get that UPT slot," Tony said, "we generally average twelve to sixteen applicants for every one slot that becomes available each year."

"I'm a proud brother but, also, someone who went through the program. I know how hard it is and what a great achievement it is," said Lt. Col. Tony Ball.

Despite the difficulty in earning those coveted pilot slots, the three members of the Ball family earned their wings and are pursuing their flying careers.

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Steve Ball was an Alaska Airlines pilot, yet another footstep his son followed, actually flying in the First Officer seat on his father's final flight with the company. Lt. Col. Tony Ball is still flying for Alaska Airlines while also working for the Air National Guard as a KC-135 pilot.

Though becoming pilots was their ultimate goal, the Ball family knows the importance of service and the necessity of well-rounded, dedicated officers in the world's greatest fighting force.

"Work hard to be the best. The best is the safest and the most effective," Lt. Col. (Ret.) Steve Ball said. "What's important is you get to serve your county."

Now, as 2nd Lt. Becca Ball joins her proud family in the tradition of flying, she shares her words of wisdom for young people hoping to become pilots.

"Pave the way for themselves. Stay in school, study hard from the very beginning and start making really good choices for themselves," said 2nd Lt. Ball.

10/31/2013 8:03:15 PM ET
Though I may not be of officer material I know the feeling of following in your families footsteps. My father joined the Army Air Force in 1946 but was unable to complete his career due to family difficulties. I felt I needed to follow his footsteps and joined the USAF in 1971 out of high school and was able to retire in 1991. I feel I finished what he was unable to do to the point I am now retired but still serve with the aircraft maintenance contractor. Congratulations 2Lt. Ball in your accomplishments. Your service is greatly appreciated.
Walter VanSlyke, Columbus AFB MS
10/31/2013 2:31:59 PM ET
What a great story. Very well written and quoted Cory. Good luck with your own career path Cory
Amy Norman , Everett WA
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