97 AMW commander visits Laughlin AFB pilot students

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kayla Christenson
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 58th Airlift Squadron and Col. Blaine Baker, 97th Air Mobility Wing commander, flew a C-17 Globemaster III to Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Dec. 9-10, 2021, where Baker gave a speech at a pilot training graduation ceremony and allowed student pilots to tour an aircraft they could potentially fly.

During the ceremony, the new pilots received a certificate and a symbolic set of silver wings.

“These wings represent your professionalism, proficiency and pride,” said Baker. “For many of you, I am willing to bet they represent the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. They certainly did for me when I was sitting in your seat 16 years ago.”

Hundreds of student pilots toured Altus AFB’s C-17 throughout the two days, learning about the missions it is capable of and the mobility air power it provides to the Air Force. Baker, being a wing commander within the Air Education and Training Command, encouraged pilots to not only gain knowledge while learning at an AETC base, but to continue to grow in their careers.

“To own the skies and the future, we are going to need those who can think beyond the limitations of the day, have the courage to pursue knowledge, embrace new concepts and exploit new technology,” said Baker.

Baker closed his speech with advice to remember their heritage as the new pilots continue in the Air Force bearing the silver wings on their chest.

“Never forget that you hold a special and privileged place in our United States Air Force,” said Baker. “Never forget that you must strive to earn the privilege to wear these silver wings, a privilege centered on service to others and not yourself. Never forget that you must be unquestionably proficient, that you must hold the highest standards of our Air Force because you are standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Col. Craig Prather, commander of the 47th Flying Training Wing at Laughlin AFB, also spoke at the graduation, ending his speech with inspiration and gratitude.

“All of you will move forward and serve in the defense of our nation and, more specifically, in support of other Americans and allies around the globe,” said Prather. “Regardless of your aircraft, all of you will absolutely be doing something meaningful and in the service of others. So, congratulations, but more importantly, thank you in advance for what you will do for our Air Force and our country.”