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Graduating the future of flight: Class 24-10

  • Published
  • By Airman Harrison Sullivan
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Twenty-four 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 May 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 24-10 graduation ceremony was U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Clark Quinn, Commander of the Nineteenth Air Force, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. With over three decades of military experience, Quinn is an accomplished leader in Flight operations. He has commanded at various levels and has held staff assignments at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command. He received his commission in 1993 from Officer Training School and is a command pilot who has flown in support of operations Southern Watch, Noble Eagle, Unified Protector, Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve. Apart from serving as the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony, Quinn once was a student from Laughlin’s specialized undergraduate pilot training program back in 1999, was part of graduating class 99-10.

Receiving their pilot wings during the ceremony were:

Maj. Matthew Kometer

Capt. Stephen Jones

Capt. Justin Poston

Capt. Samuel Strickland

Capt. Steven Ventura

1st Lt. William Akin

2nd Lt. Faris Fahad Alaklabi

1st Lt. Ceara Berry

1st Lt. Thomas Canady

1st Lt. Brandon Crosby

2nd Lt. Jacqueline Dupre

1st Lt. Gabriel Franco

2nd Lt. Max Geiger

1st Lt. David Gray

1st Lt. Michael Kometer

1st Lt. Gordon Mackenzie

2nd Lt. William Nader

1st Lt. Alex Osborn

2nd Lt. Timothy Perkins

1st Lt. Jacob Ramirez

2nd Lt. Jarryd Rita

2nd Lt. Austin Schutte

2nd Lt. Robert Strollo

2nd Lt. Jarren Terry

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. Libby Music, Commander of the 47th Student Squadron. “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.