February 17, 2020
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The President: 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. Audience: Strong! The President: 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 to 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. (applause) Not really. We never get tired
of winning, do we? Audience:
No! The President:
No. 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. (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 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. This class personifies
the spirit of confidence and courage
and unwavering commitment that has always defined
the Long Blue Line. (applause) It’s true. It goes all the way
back to the very beginning, to the first cadet
in the Air Force history. On in-processing day, you’ve —
greeted at the base of a ramp by the statue of
the legendary Val Bourque. Val grew up in a blue-collar
family in Massachusetts. During his senior year
in high school, he was recruited to play
for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That’s another baseball player. But instead, Val made
the same choice as all of you: the choice of life of service.
That’s what he wanted. Val joined the U.S.
Air Force Academy. He showed up at 4:30 a.m. on the
Academy’s opening day in 1955, so he would be the first
Air Force cadet in history to take the Oath of Allegiance.
He was thinking fast. The Academy proved an arduous
challenge, however, for Val. It wasn’t easy.
As Val’s roommate said, “He was hanging on
by a thread academically. No one was tested
more than Val was. But he was at the very top
in his character and in honor.” That’s what his roommate said. After Val finally made it
to where you’re sitting today, he volunteered to go to Vietnam, and he proved to be one of
the best pilots America had. He was amazing.
He was incredible. After nearly a year
of intense action, he was scheduled
to return home. He was very excited, but he
asked to lead one more mission. On that day, Val’s plane
was struck by enemy fire, and he made the ultimate
sacrifice for his country. He now rests
on these precious grounds, and his fighting spirit lives
in each and every one of you. Great fighting spirit. (applause) The heroes and legends
of every generation have always had to confront new
perils and defeat new dangers. No one can foresee all of the
challenges this class will face, but we do know that,
with absolute certainty, you are going to be
ready to serve. You are going to be
ready to lead. You are going to be aiming
at the absolute highest point. And you are ready to “Fly,
Fight, and Win.” Always win. (applause) Always. You exemplify the grit,
the guts, and the grace that make
America’s Air Force, by far,
the best in the world. And in the words
of your class motto, “Conquer Mind,
Conquer All.” Each of you has the sharp
intellect, deep character,
inner strength, and the titanium courage
to vanquish any menace that dares to threaten
our country or our people. (applause) We’re always ready.
Right, General? Always ready.
He’s ready. I wonder how that’s going
to be viewed — that statement —
tomorrow in the press. (laughter) You can imagine.
And that’s okay. Let them think whatever
they want to think. (applause) More than half of you will soon
head to pilot training, where you will prepare
to unleash American thunder anywhere we need.
Another 45 will join our Remotely
Piloted Aircraft program. A record number of you
will become space operators. You will specialize
in combat rescues, intelligence,
missile maintenance, weather,
air traffic control, engineering,
and much, much more. Each of you is graduating
at a truly incredible time for our country. Our country is doing well.
Our country is respected again. (applause) We are respected again. And we’re reawakening
American pride, American confidence,
and American greatness. You know that. These gentlemen know it;
I’ll tell you right now. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much. That’s very nice. And we are restoring
the fundamental principle that our first obligation
and highest loyalty is to the American citizen. No longer will we sacrifice
America’s interests to any foreign power.
We don’t do that anymore. (applause) In all things and ways,
we are putting America first, and it’s about time. (applause) Our economy is booming,
our people are thriving, and our military is stronger,
mightier, and more powerful — with all of that new aircraft —
than ever before. I am committed to keeping
our military the best trained, best equipped, and most technologically
advanced fighting force anywhere under the sun. (applause) Last year, against some
pretty strong opposition, which I’ll always have, we secured $700 billion
to support our warfighters, followed by another
$716 billion — not million — billion.
That’s with a “B.” (laughter) $716 billion dollars this year. That means we are delivering
56 new Air Force F-35s, brand new stealth. (applause) I asked somebody
on the other side, “What do you think
of that plane?” A foreign leader. They said, “We have a problem
with it; we can’t see it.” (laughter) It’s always good. It’s always
good when they can’t see you. Twenty-four new Reaper
remotely piloted Aircraft, fifteen new Pegasus
aerial refueling aircraft, ten new combat
rescue helicopters, and a well-earned pay raise for
every soldier, sailor, airman, Coast Guardsman, and Marine
in the United States military. (applause) And if anybody wants to give up
your raise, it’s okay. We’ll accept that. Okay? (laughter) Don’t do it. (laughter) We’re also asking Congress to invest more in
hypersonic weapons. We have things
under development, the likes of which
you’ve never seen; the likes of which
you can’t even conceive. Artificial intelligence, nuclear
weapons and modernization, and space superiority. And we’re soon having,
as you know, something that I started.
And it started a little slow, and now everybody
has embraced it: Space Force. And you’re going to be
working with them. (applause) And, General, I want to thank
you for helping us so much. It’s been really great.
Working with you has been great. A whole new force. In this stadium today
are many of the future leaders who will develop the doctrine,
strategy, and technology to restore America’s legacy
of leadership in space. As you know, other nations
are moving aggressively to weaponize space with new technologies that can
disrupt vital communications and blind satellites that are critical
to our battlefield operations. It is time for America to
reclaim the ultimate high ground and prepare our young
warriors of today for victory
on the battlefield tomorrow. It’s a very different
battlefield. It’s a very different
type of warfare. But we are so advanced. And when you see what’s coming,
you won’t even believe it. And hopefully —
you know what? Hopefully,
we never have to use it. Peace through strength.
Peace through strength. (applause) As your Commander-in-Chief, I want you to know
that we will pursue and maintain
the overwhelming strength we need to deter any aggressor
and thrash any foe. For that reason, I am committed
to building the Air Force we need with the full strength
of 386 squadrons. And we’re getting it done, too.
It’s happening rapidly. Because nothing will ever
strike more fear in the hearts of our enemies or inspire
more confidence in our friends than the roaring engines
of American fighter jets, flown by the greatest pilots
on the planet Earth, by far: you. (applause) The sound of American warplanes is the righteous sound
of American justice. Today, you inherit a legacy
of service and valor handed down through generations. It’s a tradition built
by legends like Rickenbacker, Doolittle, Wagner,
Archer, Boyd, Yeager, Sijan,
Grissom, and Chapman. Great people.
Great people. (applause) These trailblazers broke
barriers after barrier, and they innovated and adapted
to push America further, faster,
and on to total victory. It is the same spirit embodied
by your Class Exemplar, Neil Armstrong, who started out
flying jets over Korea, and, 50 years ago this summer, planted our great American flag
on the face of the moon. Just like all the aces
of our past and the heroes
of our history, they were ready to lead
when America needed them most. And so is every cadet
who graduates today. Is that correct? (applause) I think so. You are the patriots
whose names will go down in Air Force history. You will redefine warfare
at a very, very critical time in our country’s history.
You’ll win great battles and bring our enemies
to crushing defeat. You will explore
the boundaries of space, and keep America forever proud
and forever free. So today, you take the controls.
You’re going to push it up and chart your course
across the sky. Keep the wings level and true, because your country is
sending you on a vital mission: to defend America,
protect our people, and to pursue our nation’s
great and glorious destiny. Nothing will stop you
from victory. Nothing will stop
the U.S. Air Force. And with your help,
nothing ever, ever will stop
the United States of America. (applause) So I want to conclude by giving
a very special congratulations to a very special group
of amazing cadets and people. It’s the Class of 2019. Audience: Strong! The President: On behalf
of our nation, God bless you, God bless the Air Force,
and God bless America. This is a great honor
being with you. Thank you. And congratulations
to everybody. Thank you. (applause)

Tony wyaad