By Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson, 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 28, 2020
Col. Samantha Weeks, former 14th Flying Training Wing commander, speaks at the graduation ceremony for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-14/15 on May 15, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Weeks relinquished command of the 14th FTW on May 21, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson)
Col. Samantha Weeks, former 14th Flying Training Wing commander, hands a certificate to 2nd Lt. Mikaela Galu, Specialized Undergraduate Training Class 20-14/15 graduate, on May 15, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. In order to graduate from SUPT at Columbus AFB students must conduct over 52 weeks of training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson)
Gen. Stephen Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force and former 14th Flying Training Wing commander, virtually congratulates Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-14/15 via video on May 15, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Wilson served as 14th FTW commander from March 2004 through June 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson)
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Col. Samantha Weeks, former 14th Flying Training Wing commander, spoke at the graduation ceremony for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-14/15 on May 15, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.
The ceremony was streamed via the Columbus AFB Facebook page for family and friends in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Weeks began her speech by expressing her pride for the graduates and showing appreciation to their friends and family.
“It is a great honor to speak at the graduation of Class 20-14 and 20-15,” Weeks said. “I couldn’t be more proud of your class and appreciative of those who have supported you along the way. While they may not be here in person today, I want to thank your families and friends for supporting you and being your bedrock.”
Throughout Weeks’ speech, she encouraged the pilots to use their principles of training, not only in the aircraft, but in their everyday lives.
Weeks said the first lesson to use was to remember to take a breath, not only for the pilots to maintain aircraft control, but to think and make smart decisions throughout their careers.
Next, she told the graduates to thoroughly analyze every situation. Analyzing situations can greatly assist pilots while dealing with potential problems in the air or on the ground, she said.
Finally, Weeks said the graduates should try to learn something new every day about their assigned aircraft or other aspects of their lives.
After, she mentioned how the Air Force is always changing.
“The Air Force is changing and developing rapidly in order to maintain our dominance and strength,” she said.
In order to adapt to the changes, Weeks told the aviators to be leaders and to be bold in today’s Air Force.
“We need leaders who can think and innovate quickly, to find new ways to execute our missions,” Weeks said. “That is not going to just include fancy, new technologies, but how you think, learn and operate. Be a leader and be bold.”
In closing, Weeks reemphasized lessons each graduate was taught in training and how grateful she was to be a part of the experience.
“Don’t let these just be lessons in the aircraft,” she said. “Use them as guideposts for your life, if you do, I bet you will be able to bring any challenge to a safe and logical conclusion. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your graduation and a part of your UPT experience.”
Before the pilots were awarded with their silver wings, another guest speaker spoke to the graduates.
Gen. Stephen Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force and former 14th FTW commander, virtually congratulated the pilots through a video.
“I think you’ve showed what’s really important about our Air Force and our Airmen, with this innovative spirit, this resilience, this can-do attitude and the fact that nothing can stop you from achieving your goal,” Wilson said. “We can’t wait to have you join the rest of our Air Force, we can’t wait to have you in the rest of our squadrons and do what you are going to be doing for us. On behalf of Secretary Barrett, General Goldfein, General Raymond and the 685,000 Airmen in our Air Force, congratulations, well done and well deserved.”