General returns to Vance for Class 18-04 graduation

  • Published
  • By Airman Zachary Heal
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – The last time Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez was at Vance Air Force Base was when he graduated pilot training in 1987.

Now the commander of both U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force, Pacific Air Forces, Martinez was at Vance Jan. 19 as guest speaker for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 18-04’s graduation ceremony.

“It’s incredible to be back,” said Martinez. “It’s hard to believe that now it’s been over 30 years.”

Since he was last here the gates to Vance have moved, the planes used for pilot training have changed, and both Enid and Vance have grown, he said.  

“It’s actually very nostalgic. I can remember driving down these roads, coming on base and going to those squadrons right across the street,” said Martinez.

During his tour of those squadrons, Martinez spoke with the student and instructor pilots to share experiences and advice.

“It’s truly an honor to speak to the newest Air Force pilots,” said Martinez. “These young men and women are going to run our Air Force one day. More than that, they’re going to be out on the point of the spear for our nation in some tough places doing tough business. I’m very proud of them.”

Martinez underscored the importance of quality training to produce the world’s greatest pilots.

“The mission at Vance is absolutely critical,” said Martinez. “They produce the aviators that are going to be the future leaders of our Air Force. Getting them out the gate early with good training, discipline, aviator skills, and airmanship is the key to the readiness of our Air Force.

“I want to give my utmost and sincerest thanks to the people that work in Air Education and Training Command,” he said. “I said it earlier, there is no training anywhere in the world that is as good as the training we get in the United States Air Force.”

He gave the graduating students advice that they can use following their graduation from pilot training.

“The best advice I could give them is that when they leave here their training is not over,” said Martinez. “Always be proud that you are a pilot, don’t relax and keep the afterburners going.”