News Search

Brig. Gen. Guastella addresses JSUPT 15-10 graduates

  • Published
  • By David Poe
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
A veteran Air Force aviator touted professional service and sacrifice as part of his keynote speech during a Joint specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training graduation at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, June 12.

Just weeks before being promoted to major general and assuming a NATO post, Brig. Gen. Joseph Guastella told JSUPT Class 15-10 that a successful career starts with being a professional Airman.

Over more than 25 years, Guastella has flown more than 4,000 hours in the F-16C/D and A-10C. He's filled roles ranging from Fighter Weapons Instructor duty to forward-deployed command of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

"That's your number one job, to represent yourself as an officer in our Air Force," he said, adding that good leadership starts with good followership - recognizing that mission effectiveness is a team effort.

"When you walk up to that jet (for) the first time, or any time, you thank that crew chief for the service he did to get that jet ready," he said. "Always remember that jets don't fix themselves. Bases don't support themselves. There's a tremendous tail behind that operation."

While he encouraged the graduates to be officers first, he said their roles as professional military pilots should be a very close second.

"You're responsible for your aircraft, you're responsible for the passengers in that aircraft, you're responsible to the mission," he said. "It's a huge responsibility."

With assignments that will send Class 15-10 graduates and their families to bases in 12 states to fly more than a dozen fighter, cargo and tanker weapons systems, Guastella said responsibilities will vary, but they all will be vital to the Air Force mission.

He offered examples and advice covering every graduate's upcoming assignment.
For example, he recalled his time as an A-10 pilot in support of ground troops in Afghanistan and the unsung mission of a KC-10crew. Class 15-10 graduated a future KC-10 pilot.

"As a wing commander, the only time I've ever called another wing commander up and said 'hey, go find a particular crew,' (was when) I was in an A-10 trying to provide close-air support to our special ops guys that were surrounded by the Taliban," he said. "The weather was bad, they were surrounded, and they were running low on munitions, so it was imperative that the A10s had to stay over them all the time. I blew it as the old guy out there -- I ran low on gas, so I had to ask the KC-10 to come to me.

"That KC-10 driver drove his airplane over to where I was, fighting through weather, in somewhat mountainous terrain, to find me and gave me the gas to keep providing that close-air support," he said. "I called that wing commander and said 'thank those guys.' Without that KC-10, we wouldn't have had that support."

He also recognized the Air Force's game-changing airlift prowess in forward-deployed scenarios. Approximately half of Class 15-10's graduates will join the ranks of air mobility forces.

"Our survival rate in Afghanistan for those who were wounded is the highest in the history of human conflict," he said. "You had over a 99.7 percent chance of living if you make it to a medical facility of any kind within an hour. Our Airmen transported our wounded in helicopters to a Phase 2 hospital where they got that initial care, then they put that patient on a C-130 that's equipped with our medical experts and moved them to a Role 3 hospital. From there they stabilized them and put them on a C-17 and flew them all the way up to Germany, again with all of the hospital equipment you can imagine.

"That patient movement saved more lives and did more to make a difference for a lot of people and a lot of families across our country than anything imaginable," he said. "That's our U.S. Air Force and that's our mobility crews that are doing that."

Guastella closed by telling the graduates to never become complacent when it comes to sharpening their skills.

"The key is never stop learning," he said. "(Two years ago,) I was chair flying in my little dusty room in Afghanistan. I was practicing what I was going to do. You never stop trying to get better in that airplane - it will pay dividends for decades to come."

He also reminded the graduates that no matter if they're flying at a tranquil 25,000 feet or 2,200 feet over a firefight, military aviation is a vocation that requires a pilot's "A game" every sortie.

"Despite the phenomenal training you have, it is risky at times," he said. "I lost my college roommate in an F-4 crash in Bergstrom, Texas, about a year-and-a-half after graduation. I've had to knock on a door and tell a spouse that her husband wasn't coming home.

"I don't say these things to scare anyone, I say these things to hopefully send a message to our graduates that flying can be a dangerous business," he said. "Make sure you're 'good to go' before you strap on that airplane for the sake of yourself and everything you're responsible for."
Dress and Appearance
Awards and Decorations
Air Force Promotions
Fitness Program
AF Demographics