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Graduating the future of flight: Class 24-06

  • Published
  • By 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Twenty-seven U.S. Air Force officers were awarded the coveted silver wings as a symbol of their hard work and training during a graduation ceremony held Feb. 23, 2024.  

Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) is a training program that helps prepare prospective military pilots. Upon completion of the program, graduates earn their silver wings as Air Force aviators. 

The guest speaker at the Class 24-06 graduation ceremony was Col. Timothy MacGregor, United States Air Force, Retired. MacGregor enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1983 and graduated from the USAF Academy in 1990. He served in various leadership and flying roles throughout his 34-year military career, including as a KC-135R Aircraft Commander, KC-10A Instructor, and Commander of the 47th Operations Group. 

Award winners during the ceremony included: 

1st Lt. Dorin Alexan, receiving the Distinguished Graduate Award 

1st Lt. Catalin Ardelean, receiving the Outstanding Officer Award, Flying Training Award, distinguished graduate award, and Order of Daedalians Air Education and Training Command Commander’s Trophy 

2nd Lt. Noah Bayer, receiving the Warrior Award and Distinguished Graduate Award 

2nd Lt. Christoffer Crowley, receiving the Academic Award 

2nd Lt. Joseph Leistner, receiving the Citizenship Award 

2nd Lt. Lance Mayo, receiving the Order of Daedalians Air Education and Training Command Commander’s Trophy 

2nd Lt. Christopher Meno, receiving the Outstanding Officer Award 

Also receiving their pilot wings during the ceremony were: 

1st Lt. Mohamed Bradai 

2nd Lt. Noah Cha 

2nd Lt. Jerrett Chang 

2nd Lt. Colin Deleon 

2nd Lt. Jacob Erickson 

2nd Lt. Josiah Hoege 

2nd Lt. Sanghyun Hwang 

2nd Lt. Jarad Johnson 

2nd Lt. Patrick Majeika 

2nd Lt. Joshua Nash 

2nd Lt. Olivia Olsen 

2nd Lt. Jonathan Petersen 

2nd Lt. Luca Pisani 

2nd Lt. Ryan Porath 

2nd Lt. William Schaffer 

2nd Lt. James Stefo 

2nd Lt. Christopher Steward 

2nd Lt David Villareal 

2nd Lt. Stone Ward 

2nd Lt. Zachary Ward 

In addition to the graduation ceremony, a special emphasis was placed on recognizing the sacrifices and contributions of military spouses. It served as a reminder that while the graduates were the ones receiving their wings, their achievements were also a testament to the love, sacrifice and constant support of their spouses, who serve alongside them in spirit and strength.  

“Military spouses are often said to ‘live in the shadows’,” said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Music, 47th Student Squadron commander. “Although not in uniform, spouses have an essential role to play and are the backbone of the military community. Tonight is about your pilots earning their wings, but also a recognition of you. Your love, sacrifice and ad nauseam quizzing of bold face procedures has not gone unnoticed.” 

The ceremony proceeded with the breaking of the wings, a tradition symbolizing the start of a new journey for the novice pilots. According to the tradition, the first pair of wings a pilot receives should never be worn. Instead, the wings should be broken into two halves to invite good fortune throughout the pilot’s aviation career. One half is kept by the pilot, while the other is given to a significant person in their life. To preserve that good luck, those two halves are said to only be brought together again in the next life. 

The event culminated in the pinning of the wings, where friends and family members affixed a pair of silver wings onto the graduates’ uniforms. This gesture signified the official transition of the students into winged aviators, fully prepared to embrace the forthcoming roles within the United States Air Force.  

Pilot wings are a symbol of hard work, training, and dedication. Aviation wings are issued to pilots who have achieved a certain level of proficiency or training. Now the time has finally come to each of you graduates who have worked so hard for those coveted silver wings to pin them to your uniform for all to see.