COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Col. Sloan Hollis, Air Force Inspection Agency commander at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, spoke to the Air Force’s newest aviators during a graduation ceremony July 26, in the Kaye Auditorium on Columbus AFB, Mississippi.
Hollis told graduates of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class’s 19-19/20 that 21 years ago he was sitting where they are, graduating with Class 98-12.
“Never did I think that I’d be asked to come back here,” Hollis said. “So, I am really honored to come back here.”
He stressed to the graduates how important it is for them to hold onto this memory and remember their time walking across the stage earning their silver wings, because it will only happen once.
“You are going to remember this day forever,” Hollis said. “Soak it all in, be nice to your parents if they want one more picture, if you can smile a bit better. Say ‘yes ma’am or yes sir,” just do it. This day is for them as well. Though it’s been your dream, it has been their dream too.”
He reminded the graduates that though this career they choose is a small, and a very important part of the Air Force mission, they did not accomplish the task alone.
“Remember that you are part of the few now, you are part of the brotherhood and sisterhood, part of that elite line,” Hollis said. “You made it. Now you must remain humble, approachable and credible.”
He wanted the new pilots to know that there’s a large force of Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines that make it possible for the pilots to accomplish their mission.
“I challenge you no matter what to thank your crew chief every flight and remember the thousands of Airmen who allow you to do what you love to do,” Hollis said.
Not only that, Hollis advised graduates to thank their parents, loved ones, family, friends and fellow classmates throughout the day that helped them get through this past year.
Hollis also talked about his envy toward the graduates, noting that they have their whole career out in front of them.
“I am truly envious of you,” he said. “I’ve had a great career, I’ve enjoyed things, I’ve got to go out and fly, fight and win for my country.
“… For all of you, it’s awesome,” he continued. “You’re getting your wings and you have a whole career out in front of you, you are going to do great things and you are going to have fun doing it.”
He then challenged the graduates with a few words of advice.
“Never stop learning,” Hollis said. “… Constantly guide and improve yourself. The enemy changes out there, the world we face changes, so you have got to adapt and change constantly. You have to stay on top of the game. … Always continue learning, always strive to be better, there’s always something that you can learn to make you a better Airman.”
With that being said, Hollis warned graduates to never confuse enthusiasm with capabilities.
“You’re all bright-eyed with smiles and very enthusiastic, but remember enthusiasm does not replace capabilities,” Hollis said. “The minute you forget that, somebody will get hurt.”
He concluded with the daily experiences a pilot can have, but to try to stay positive in different situations. Like any profession, there will be good and bad days, however, he said “I promise you the good days will far outnumber the bad days.”
Hollis congratulated the pilots on their special day, wishing them the best.
“I’m envious, I wish I could be in your shoes and have that whole future of flying out in front of me,” Hollis said. “I wish you all blue skies and tail winds.”