Class of 2015: A commitment to excellence

Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson

Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- To the U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2015 - our 57th graduating class - Congratulations!  These past four years have not been easy - Basic Cadet Training, Recognition, Polaris Warrior, Graded Reviews, finals, labs and speeches, the 10-meter platform, water survival and unarmed combat, fires and floods - highs and lows, triumphs and tragedies. 

We have challenged you to develop as leaders of character, ready to serve our Air Force and our nation.  We have immersed you in our Air Force culture and introduced you to our history and traditions. We have exposed you to our Air Force missions to fly, fight, and win in air, space and cyberspace, and encouraged you to embrace the Air Force ethos - Airmen solve problems differently. We have challenged you with the demands and rewards of a strong liberal education in harmony with science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and have encouraged you to show the courage to compete - in intramurals or intercollegiate sports, on dean's teams and commandant clubs. We have tested and pushed you well beyond what you may have thought possible. 

Today you graduate knowing you have met these challenges. You have tested yourselves and each other, learning your strengths and weaknesses and emerged a stronger person and a more capable leader. You have raised the bar for cadets who will follow in your footsteps, demanding and accepting more accountability and responsibility and the challenges that come along with them. You have been a transformational class, faithfully representing what it means to be servant leaders of character. The standards you have set for yourself and your classmates are unlike those found anywhere else. The enduring values of integrity, service and excellence you have proudly embraced each and every day will serve as the basis for all that follows. By committing to something greater than yourselves, you have developed traditions of duty that will elevate you for the rest of your lives. Your leadership is a tribute to who you are and a foreshadowing of all you will accomplish as you continue this next chapter of your lives.

Last fall, I spoke with you about our oath of office. Now, as you become officers in the U.S Air Force, you pledge your service to the Constitution and fully begin your commitment to your nation. By doing so, you embrace the Air Force and our core values. This commitment is a significant first step in what I hope is a long and rewarding Air Force career because today is a new beginning. 

Today you join the ranks of more than 660,000 active duty, guard, reserve, and civilian Airmen including nearly 400,000 enlisted personnel who stand ready to salute you, eager to support you as their leader. When you raise your right hand here today, you accept the incredible responsibility of leading the world's most powerful Air Force. You can do so with confidence as U.S. Air Force Academy graduates.

When you depart the Academy today, embrace the pride and support of your families, friends, classmates, teammates, sponsor families and the faculty and staff who surround you, for you have not achieved this extraordinary accomplishment alone. As you go forward, know that your loved ones and all of us on the Academy staff are filled with pride and inspired by all you have yet to accomplish. You embody the character and experiences that make us the Air Force's Academy.

Congratulations, Class of 2015!