News: Secretary Donley congratulates new officers at AFA commencement
Story by Jon Zanone
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The secretary of the Air Force spoke at the commencement address for the Air Force Academy's Class of 2011 at Falcon Stadium May 25.
Michael B. Donley congratulated the 1,021 graduates and challenged them to be lifelong learners, team players and doers after they received their diplomas and their commissions.
"I know you couldn't be prouder today," Donley said to the graduates' parents and family members. "We've raised men and women with the desire, drive and patriotism to succeed at one of the most prestigious universities in the world."
The secretary also thanked the Academy's faculty and staff for their efforts in developing the Air Force's next generation of leaders.
"Thank you for your dedication to the development of these young cadets who have been under your care," he said. "Your tireless efforts have produced leaders with the character, the physical stamina, the academic credentials and the military skills our Air Force demands."
Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, the Academy superintendent, welcomed distinguished guests, parents and family members and joined both Secretary Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz in congratulating the Academy's 53rd graduating class.
"We have challenged these graduates militarily, physically and academically," Gould said. "The Class of 2011 has demonstrated steadfast resiliency and ... the character traits needed to lead our nation in the decades to come."
The graduation ceremony is a launching pad both for the graduates and for the future of the Air Force itself, Donley said.
"Continue, and embrace your lifelong education," he said. "I think you will find that you would always like to have more training, more degrees, more languages under your belt. You can always keep learning."
The secretary encouraged the graduates to continue building relationships like the ones they have built during their four years at the Academy.
"National and international security are team sports, and our nations will depend on the coalitions that you can bring together," he said. "It will be absolutely critical as you work with your joint partners on the U.S. [Department of Defense] team, your fellows in other government security agencies and our coalition partners."
Donley also challenged the new lieutenants to look for ways to contribute to the units in which they serve.
"In the words of Tommy Lasorda, there are three types of batters, and by extension, three types of people: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happened," he said. "My advice to you is to be in the first group: we need airmen who make it happen."
The new second lieutenants will step into leadership roles amid an Air Force in transition, Donley said. Increasing numbers of airmen are entering space, cyberspace and acquisition career fields. More officers will also enter remotely piloted aircraft fields as the Air Force evolves, with 32 lieutenants from the Class of 2011 entering the RPA pilot career path.
"RPAs have become important assets particularly in the current fight, and there is no doubt they will remain a permanent fixture in our Air Force," he said. "Our RPA force will produce more pilots than our fighter training units this year."
Unchanged, however, are the Air Force Core Values: Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do, Donley said. These core values form the anchor for airmen's military service. The oath of office also remains unchanged and binds Air Force Academy graduates with their fellow military officers.
"Your oath of office ... is your head-to-toe promise to your country, your fellow service members, your families and yourselves. Wherever you go in our Air Force ... this oath will bind you together. It will bind you with the generations of Americans before you who have worn the nation's cloth and have sacrificed ... their lives in defense of this country's freedom. And it will bind you and your story to the future security and success of our nation."
The Air Force will need everything its new officers can offer because the nation's security is tied directly to its airmen, Donley said.
"No matter how advanced our systems and technology, we still depend on the education, the training, the commitment and, ultimately, the quality of our airmen to support these systems and put them to work in our nation's defense," he said.
The secretary encouraged Class of 2011 graduates to continue to look to the Air Force's senior NCO corps as well as its officer corps for mentorship, as they will quickly need to step into leadership roles themselves.
"We will graduate approximately 3,300 officers this year from the Academy, ROTC programs and Officer Training Schools, but meanwhile, 29,000 new enlisted airmen will join the Air Force," he said. "They will look to you for guidance and leadership. We are counting on you to use your education and training to the fullest."
Donley concluded by charging the new officers to "make this count."
"Know that we are proud of you, that Gen. Schwartz and the rest of our leadership team are committed to your future success, and that there's no Air Force leader, past or present -- not even Gen. Olds himself were he alive today -- who does not envy the future ahead of you," he said.
Distinguished audience members in attendance included Janine Sijan Rozina, the sister of Medal of Honor recipient Capt. Lance Sijan; Jane LeMay Lodge, the daughter of fifth Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Curtis LeMay; Sue Ross, a member of the Academy's Board of Visitors; Cindy McCain, the wife of Arizona Sen. John McCain; Medal of Honor recipient Col. Bud Day, whose grandson, Joshua, was among the 1,021 graduates; and Christina Olds, one of the daughters of the late Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, who was the Class of 2011's cadet exemplar.
BY THE NUMBERS - CLASS OF 2011
All Graduates to Date:
39,576 Male Graduates (All Years)
4,325 Female Graduates (All Years)
Class of 2011:
1,021 Total Graduates
818 Graduating Men
203 Graduating Women
92 Asian-American/Pacific Islanders
12 Native Americans
12 International Students
2.93 Average GPA
562 Total Rated Graduates
25 Combat Systems Operators
10 Air Battle Managers
32 Unmanned Aerial System Pilots
564 Graduates who have attained general officer rank
71 Second-generation graduates
52 Second-child graduates
8 Third-child graduates
3 Fourth-child graduates
2 Sets of twins