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55th Wing commander encourages Class 22-06 to remain teachable

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Davis Donaldson
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss.-- U.S. Air Force Col. Kristen Thompson, 55th Wing commander, was the distinguished speaker at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 22-06’s graduation ceremony, March 4, 2022, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.

In her speech, Thompson first told the families and friends thank you for attending the pilot’s graduation.

“It is a tremendous achievement for the new aviators and they could not have done it without their loved one’s support,” said Thompson.

Although the pilots should be proud of their accomplishments, she said they should always remain teachable throughout their careers.

“You have to continue to be teachable,” said Thompson. “Your hard work has brought you to this milestone and you should be very proud of your achievement, but while today marks the end of your initial training, it is only the beginning of being a tactically savvy operator.”

After graduating SUPT, the graduates will go to various bases to train in their specialized aircraft. From the C-130J Super Hercules to the F-22 Raptor, each pilot will become masters of their new aircraft.

Thompson said the pilots are needed now more than ever with the recent events across the globe.

“We’ve been asked to fly over the world, delivering resolute airpower on behalf of our great nation,” said Thompson. “Just like our European allies in the fight right now, we bring our values to combat. Your moment is coming and what an extraordinary opportunity.”

She continued to motivate the new pilots and gave them tips into the next steps in their careers. Within her closing remarks, she officially welcomed the aviators to the family of pilots.

“Today is a big day and probably the best of your career,” Thompson said. “Welcome to the world of unrelenting airpower. Allow me to be the first to congratulate you on your incredible accomplishment.”

After Thompson’ speech, the graduates received their silver wings to officially become Air Force pilots. Some graduates received an award from the Air Education and Training Command for standing out above their peers in training.

Out of 21 pilots, the distinguished graduates of SUPT Class 22-06 were 1st Lt. Joseph Santangelo, 2nd Lt. Zachary Dickmann and 2nd Lt. Aaron Youngs.