Lieutenants become pilots at Class 16-10 graduation

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  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Twenty-one lieutenants received their wings during Class 16-10’s graduation ceremony June 10 at Vance Air Force Base.

All but two will leave here for other locations for additional aviation training. Those two will remain at Vance AFB as first-assignment instructor pilots in the T-1A Jayhawk and the T-38 Talon.

Two international allied students trained with Class 16-10, and will returned to Saudi Arabia to fly fighter aircraft.

Retired Lt. Col. Robert Pardo was the graduation speaker. Pardo is best known in flying circles for an unorthodox aviation maneuver, called the “Pardo Push,” that kept his wingmen on an F-4 bombing run over North Vietnam in 1967 from ejecting into the hands of hostile forces.

Attending the graduation were guests, family and friends of Class 16-10. Also attending was Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 17-10, the newest class of student pilots.

Class 17-10 was asked to stand by Col. Clark Quinn, the 71st Flying Training Wing commander at Vance AFB. He charged them with an important mission.

“Stay focused, work hard, and in a year you will be moving to the front seats, making room on your uniforms for your own set of wings. Congratulations on being here and good luck,” said Quinn.

In addition to thanking Enid community leaders, Team Vance members, and the friends and spouses that helped Class 16-10 get to graduation, Quinn gave special recognition to the instructor pilots that trained the new pilots.

“They are the least represented at this graduation, not because they didn’t want to attend, but because it is a sunny day in Oklahoma and airplanes are flying,” said Quinn.

“Instructor pilots don’t get a day off for graduation. They are now flying with Class 16-11 or 12 or 13, getting them ready for the front row seats,” he said. “On behalf of all the Wing, I’d like to extend a special thank you to all the IPs.”

Quinn then introduced the graduation speaker, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Pardo.

“I don’t really like talking about myself,” Pardo said. He recommended the audience “Google Bob Pardo” for more information “than you will ever need.”

Pardo reminded the new pilots that they were elite. “In my time, 10 percent of the population was in uniform. Now it is less than eight-tenths of 1 percent,” he said.

“That is a heavy load ahead of you, but you can handle it with teamwork. Throughout your career, that is going to be one of the most important things about your flying – teamwork,” he added.

“Every job in the Air Force is important. You need to do it to the very best of your ability, every day, every time.”

Pardo also thanked the parents in the audience for their part in getting the new graduates into the Air Force.

“I don’t think they had to beat you about the head and shoulders to get you into the Air Force,” he said to the new pilots. “I think they simply set an example by word or deed that made you want to be in the Air Force, to give something back to this country.”

The ceremony continued with Col. John Cinnamon, the 71st Operations Group commander, presenting awards for academic excellence, leadership and flying training.

Quinn presented the distinguished graduate awards, followed by Pardo presenting the Air Education and Training Command commander’s trophies.

The wing commander then presented graduation certificates and a set of pilot wings to the new pilots. Pardo shook each graduate’s hand and passed on words of encouragement.

Award winners in Class 16-10 are:
Academic Excellence in the T-1A Jayhawk, 2nd Lt. Spencer Dewey; T-38 Talon, 2nd Lt. Joseph Phillips.
Leadership Award in the T-1, 2nd Lt. Joshua Hughes; T-38, 2nd Lt. Nicholas Hope.
Flying Training Award in the T-1, 2nd Lt. Spencer Dewey; T-38, 2nd Lt. Cameron Gantz.
Distinguished Graduate in the T-1, 2nd Lt. Spencer Dewey; T-38, 2nd Lt. Ryan McCooey.
The Daedalian AETC Commander’s Trophy in the T-1, 2nd Lt. Spencer Dewey; T-38, 2nd Lt. Ryan McCooey.

Recipients of the Risner River Rats Awards were: T-1, 2nd Lt. Eric Fedorchuk; T-38, 2nd Lt. Zachary Vohs.

The 21 new pilots in Class 16-10 are 1st Lts. Kristian C. Arrington and Nicholas R. Losoya; and 2nd Lts. Joshua A. Hughes, Ahmed Alharbi, Naif Almutairi, Anna G. Baughan, Julia R. Bragdon, Matthew R. Chaney, Spencer Dewey, Daniel S. Dixon, Eric R. Fedorchuk, Cameron J. Gantz, Nicholas L. Hope, Ryan J. McCooey, Manuel H. Medina, Joseph D. Phillips, Lindsey A. Pritchett, Jonathan A. Richman, George D. Smith III, Zachary Vohs and Hans-Erik Wittig.

The graduates received assignments for training in the:
KC-135 Stratotanker, an aerial refueling and transport aircraft;
F-16 Fighting Falcon, a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft;
MQ-1B Predator, an armed, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft;
C-17 Globemaster III, the Air Force’s newest, most flexible cargo aircraft;
C-130J Hercules, a tactical airlift-vehicle capable of operating from undeveloped airfields;
T-1A Jayhawk, a medium-range, twin-engine jet trainer;
T-38 Talon, a twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer;
E-3 Sentry, an airborne warning and control system;
F-15C Eagle, an all-weather, extremely maneuverable tactical fighter;
F-15E Strike Eagle, a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions;
A-10C Thunderbolt II, a close-air-support platform capable of excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitudes;
C-21, a twin turbofan-engine aircraft used for cargo and passenger airlift;
U-28A, a single-engine tactical airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft;
Eurofighter Typhoon, a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter.