Falcon Stadium Colorado Springs, Colorado May 30 12:00 P.M. MST
Thank you very much. Please. You just like all those brand new, beautiful airplanes that we're buying. (Laughter.)
Hello, Air Force Academy. It's been a long time since I've been here. And what a place. What a place it is. At ease, everybody. (Laughter.)
I'm thrilled to be here with all of you as we celebrate the incredible Class of 2019.
And you truly make America proud. You make us all proud. Thank you very much. Great job. Really great job. (Applause.)
And I want to thank Secretary Wilson for the introduction and for her two years of service as the first graduate of the academy to be the very important Secretary of the Air Force at a time when we've really expanded out the Air Force and bought equipment like you've never seen before. So, congratulations. Thank you very much, Heather. Beautiful job. (Applause.)
And I want to thank three other truly remarkable former cadets: your Superintendent, Lieutenant General Jay Silvaria. (Applause.) Class of 1985. Jay, I thought you were a little bit younger than that. (Laughter.) General David Goldfein, Class of 1983. Thank you, General. (Applause.) Great job. Does a great job; respected by everybody. And NORTHCOM Commander, General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, Class of 1986. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, General.
We're also grateful to be joined by Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, General John Hyten. General, thank you very much. (Applause.) Spent a lot of time together talking about things. (Laughter.)
And Commander of Air Force Space Command, General Jay Raymond. Thank you, General. (Applause.) Space Command.
And to all of the distinguished faculty, coaches, and staff, thank you for forging and refining a new generation of American warriors.
We're also joined by many distinguished Air Force veterans and academy graduates. We applaud and salute you all. Thank you very much. Thank you for being here. (Applause.)
And to the thousands of moms and dads and grandparents and family members beaming with joy - and that's what they're doing; they are beaming with joy - thank you for raising rock-ribbed American patriots. (Applause.)
America is stronger thanks to your love and your support for these incredible people - these incredible graduates. Cadets, join me in paying tribute to your amazing Air Force families. Go ahead, pay tribute. (Applause.)
That's beautiful. That's beautiful. Without them, you wouldn't be here, and that's the way it is. (Laughter.) That's the way it is. (Laughter.)
Most of all, to the nearly 1,000 cadets - who I have agreed to shake every single hand - (applause) - they gave me a choice. They said, "Sir, you don't have to shake any hands."
Some people do that. Those are the smart ones. They're out of here. (Laughter.) You can shake one hand to the one person, top of the class. You could shake 10, 50, or 100, and you could also stay for 1,000. And I'm staying for 1,000. Okay? (Applause.)
And I know we're all going to make it. (Laughter.) There's no doubt about it, right? There's no doubt about it.
To the nearly 1,000 cadets who will soon become Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force: You could have chosen any school, any career you wanted, but you chose a harder path and a higher calling: to protect and defend the United States of America. I know what you've been through, and it's tougher. But you know what? In the end, it's better. You're going see. You'll see. (Laughter.) You'll see.
Today, you take your place as officers in the most powerful Air Force in the history of our country and, frankly and very easily, in the history of the world. (Applause.) America commends the integrity, devotion, and commitment of the Class of 2019. (Applause.)
When you choose the Air Force, you choose the noble road of service and duty and devotion. You choose to break old boundaries, and unlock new frontiers, and live life on the cutting edge.
The first air combat happened just one century ago. You are the ones who will invent and define the next generation of air warfare. And you are the ones who will secure American victory all the time. Victory. To dominate the future, America must rule the skies. (Applause.)
And that is what your time at this great academy has been all about: preparing you to do whatever it takes to learn, to adapt, and to win, win, win. You're going to win so much. You're going to get so tired of winning, but not really. (Laughter and applause.) Not really. We never get tired of winning, do we?
Over the past four years, that's just what you've done. You've worked. You've preserved - persevered. You've excelled. You've done so many things that nobody else can do. And, in the end, you've come out on top.
It took years of focus and discipline to get here, starting long before "Beast." Right? Beast. You all know what "Beast" is, right? (Laughter.) Just being admitted to the Academy is a monumental achievement. Only 1 out of every 10 applicants makes the cut. And don't forget: Out of those 10 applicants, there are hundreds that think about it, but they know they don't even have a chance. So remember that. (Laughter and applause.) It's true, actually. It's actually - actually true. For those who are accepted, another 20 percent don't make it to graduation, sadly.
Only the best survive to the very end. And here, under the majestic peaks of the Rockies, you have risen to every challenge, overcome every single obstacle, and proven yourselves worthy of the bars that will soon adorn your uniform. (Applause.)
You survived BCT, made it to Recognition, and earned your Prop and Wings. (Applause.) You soared in gliders, piloted aircraft, and launched satellites that are now orbiting way, way above us, looking down on us. You performed advanced research, developed new technol - techniques. You honed your skills as cyber operators, and jumped out of planes thousands of feet above the Earth. Not easy. (Applause.) For America's airmen, the sky is never, ever the limit.
That being said, even the best cadets can sometimes get a little bit carried away. Lieutenant General Silvaria has informed me that a few cadets are still on restriction for pranks and other fairly bad mischief. (Laughter.) You know what I'm talking about, right? And you all know who you are. (Laughter.)
So, keeping with tradition, and as your Commander-in-Chief, I hereby absolve and pardon all cadets serving restrictions and confinements. (Applause.) And that, you earned. You earned it. So you're all on even footing. Is that nice? (Laughter.)
This class has racked up a list of truly extraordinary achievements. Two graduating cadets recently received one of the most prestigious awards in all of academia: Rhodes scholarships. Please join me in congratulating cadets James Brahm and Madison Tung. Please stand up. (Applause.) Wow. Thank you very much. That's a big - a big, fat congratulations from me. That's a tremendous, tremendous job you've done. Thank you. Thank you, Madison. Great job.
On the athletic fields, the Air Force has won 15 conference championships over the last four years, which is really something. A hundred and fifty-three athletes have earned All-American honors. Stand up. Stand up. (Applause.) All-American. Wow. (Applause.) Wow. It's fantastic. Congratulations. Including Rifle Team members Anna Weilbacher and Spencer Cap, who helped the Falcons win the air rifle national title and beat the other service academies to bring home the President's Trophy. Please, stand up. Stand up. (Applause.) It's fantastic. But you didn't enjoy beating those other academies. I don't think so, right? Not too much.
And graduating cadet Nick Ready became the first person from any service academy to win the College Home Run Derby - wow, that's a big deal - with a record-breaking 55 home runs. Nick, where are you, Nick? Stand up. (Applause.) Come here, Nick. Come here. Get up here, Nick. Come here. (Applause.) Come here, Nick.
You know, they gave him such a lousy seat all the way back in the corner. (Laughter.) Come on up. Baseball. Home Run Derby. That's something. In all of college baseball. Wow. I want to feel this guy's muscles. (Laughter.)
It's real. That's real. That's great. Thank you very much, Nick. That's a big deal. That's a big deal. (Applause.)
The members of this class come from every background, every state in the union, and even from our allies overseas. But through trial and training and tradition, you've become one family. It's what's happened.
And like one family, you have all been pulling for one of your classmates, who has bravely fought his battle with cancer. Today, Parker Hammond graduates as a munitions and missiles maintenance officer - (applause) - along with the class that has stood with him every step of the way. (Applause.) Great - come on, Parker. Get up here, Parker. Parker. Come here. Come here, right? Come here. They love you, Parker. Why do you like him so much? (Applause.) Great job. Great. (Applause.)
A lot of good-looking people in this school, I have to say. (Laughter.) Thank you, Parker.