Class of 2015: Ready to serve, learn, lead

Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost (Air Force photo)

Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost (Air Force photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Class of 2015, congratulations! In June of 2011, 1,113 of you stood on the blue footprints at the base of the core values ramp. Today, 840 will march across the stage at Falcon Stadium, well prepared to start a career in service to the nation. The past four years have been tough and for good reason. The Air Force you will lead faces innumerable challenges and you have to be prepared. The U.S. Air Force Academy's program pushed you to your intellectual and physical limits and beyond.

The academic program you completed is one of the most rigorous in the nation, carefully balancing science, technology, engineering, mathematics and liberal arts. The core curriculum gave you grounding in diverse disciplines, but more importantly engaged you with ways of thinking about the world that will serve you well as an officer. No matter your Air Force specialty, you will be better prepared to lead with character and respect, integrate knowledge about human cultures and the natural world, and apply agile intellectual skills and habits of mind, all to defend our nation in air, space, and cyberspace.

While you celebrate your accomplishments, remember that your challenges are just beginning. Your class will enter diverse career fields, each with its body of knowledge and skills to master. Be confident that the last four years have prepared you with the intellectual tools to succeed. For those of you entering graduate school, you will find your hard-won time management skills and discipline will be as vital to your success as the academic program you have just completed.

As you move into your active duty careers, your responsibilities will increase dramatically. Remember that education can continue to help you grow as a leader, officer and citizen. Never stop learning. Remember the educational funding programs we've spoken about. Take full advantage of them to keep expanding your opportunities to learn. These include the Tuition Assistance program and the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

To the family and friends of our graduates, congratulations and thank you. You've supported them for four challenging years and have allowed them to grow into great second lieutenants. Please continue to keep the Academy at the forefront of your thoughts as we continue to develop future officers. You play a key role in representing the Academy and the Air Force in your hometowns, and we appreciate your support.

Again, congratulations on a job well done. Enjoy your leave, and report to your first base ready to learn, serve and lead.