Class 16-15 graduates head into the wild blue yonder

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  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Twenty new Air Force pilots received their wings during Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 16-15’s graduation ceremony held here Sept. 30.

Eighteen will leave here for other bases and additional flight training. Two will remain to become first-assignment instructor pilots in the T-38 Talon and T-1A Jawhawk.

The ceremony, held in the base auditorium, was attended by guests, family and friends of Class 16-15. Also attending was SUPT Class 17-15, the newest class of student pilots.

The graduation speaker was Col. Todd Canterbury, the F-35 Integration Office Operations Division Chief at the Pentagon.

The colonel challenged the graduates to, “Sharpen your sword, turn toward the sound of guns and be the next great story in our Air Force family history.”

Following Canterbury’s presentation, individual awards and pilot wings were presented to the graduates.

Col. Paul Johnson, 71st Operations Group commander, presented the Academic Excellence, Leadership and Flying Training awards. The recipients were:

Academic Excellence in the T-1A Jayhawk, 2nd Lt. Robert Ahern; T-38 Talon, 2nd Lt. Patrick Duffy.

Leadership Award in the T-1, 2nd Lt. Robert Ahern; T-38, 1st Lt. Kyle Fitle.

Flying Training Award in the T-1, 2nd Lt. Robert Ahern; T-38, 1st Lt. Fitle.

Col. Darrell Judy, 71st Flying Training Wing commander, presented the Distinguished Graduate awards to 2nd Lts. Robert Ahern and Julius Rice in the T-1, and 1st Lt. Kyle Fitle in the T-38.

Canterbury presented the Daedalian AETC Commander’s Trophy to 2nd Lt. Robert Ahern in the T-1 and 1st Lt. Kyle Fitle in the T-38.

Recipients of the Risner River Rats Awards were 1st Lt. Thomas Giaimo in the T-1 and 2nd Lt. Eric Bueltel in the T-38.

Judy then presented the Class 16-15 graduates their wings. Canterbury congratulated each of the new Air Force pilots.

Graduates of Class 16-15 were: Capt. Miles A. Dorroh, 1st Lts. Joseph N. Burmeister, John T. Dike, Jacob M. Draszkiewicz, Andrew T. Farren, Casey Felz, Kyle D. Fitle, Timothy J. Ford II, Tommy J. Giaimo, Curtis S. Kniatt, Daniel J. Levine, Timothy J. Maresch, Baxter Reed, 2nd Lts. Robert J. Ahern, Jason M. Brown, Eric J. Bueltel, Vincent E. Donnelly, Patrick J. Duffy, Julius J. Rice and Todd J. Whiting.

The new pilots received assignments for training in the:
KC-135 Stratotanker, an aerial refueling and transport aircraft;
C-17 Globemaster III, the Air Force’s newest, most flexible cargo aircraft;
C-130 Hercules, a tactical airlift-vehicle capable of operating from undeveloped airfields;
F-15 Eagle, a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions;
CV-22 Osprey, a tiltrotor aircraft that combines qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel efficiency and speed of a turboprop aircraft;
T-1A Jayhawk, a medium-range, twin-engine jet trainer used to train students selected to fly airlift or tanker aircraft;
F-16 Fighting Falcon, a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft;
T-38C Talon, a twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer;
KC-10 Extender, an advanced aerial-refueling and cargo aircraft;
C-5M Super Galaxy, the largest airlifter in the Air Force inventory;
MC-130J Commando II, flies low visibility, single or multiship, low-level missions for special operations;
MC-12, a medium- to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance;
E-3 Sentry, an airborne warning and control system.