ACC commander pins on wings of Vance’s newest UPT graduates

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  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. - Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, and ACC Command Chief Master Sgt. John Storms, visited Vance Air Force Base April 13-14, to celebrate the Air Force’s newest aviators. 

The ACC command duo were greeted by Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 23-08 at the base auditorium on Friday morning before the start of the graduation ceremony. The two were able to interact with the future pilots in a one-on-one setting, easing nerves while also generating excitement about their future aviation careers. 

“One of the young UPT students that I met today commented to me, ‘being a four-star MAJCOM commander who still gets to fly the F-15E seems neat,’” Kelly said. “My reply was, ‘yes, I’m very fortunate to still fly and it seems neat, but being a lieutenant or captain in our Air Force that flies every day, well that actually is neat.’”

Kelly continued by encouraging the graduates that while they’ve come so far in training, it’s really just begun. He laid out the possible future framework for the students in the many aircraft they will soon fly.

The general pointed out that the best Air Force pilots have several traits in common. “They’re vigilant against complacency and loathe any culture of overt noncompliance. Besides being inherently safer, they’re more lethal, they’re more survivable and they’re more disciplined in the air. These aviators are humble, approachable and credible,” he said. 

Kelly wrapped up his keynote speech with one final reminder to the graduates.

“The essence of this entire training regimen, the essence of every day forward in your profession, is to execute ordinary aviation tasks extraordinarily well,” he said.