COLORADO SPRINGS — Graduation for the US Air Force Academy Class of 2021 features the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration at the end of the commencement ceremony.
The graduation events began at 9:30 a.m. and will conclude around 1:15 p.m. with the Thunderbirds demonstration.
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The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark A. Milley, delivered the commencement. Gen. Milley has served in his current post since 2019 when he was nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the US Senate.
During his speech, Gen. Milley emphasized on U.S. history dating back to WWI to the present day, and the role the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Air Force Academy graduates have played. He also emphasized that many of the cadets are graduating in an age of great technological development, and how important it will be for the graduates' futures.
"Look back and see the pioneers who came before you and study them because no less is going to be asked of you," said Gen. Milley. "Revolutionary change will occur in your time in service. And right now, right in this very moment in Colorado Springs, a fundamental change in the character of war is underway."
Similar remarks were made by the Acting Secretary of the Air Force, John Roth. He also emphasized the importance of U.S. Space Force, noting that 40 USAFA have gone on to become NASA astronauts.
"You are joining the long blue line during an era of transformation," said Roth, "we need leaders with talent to outmaneuver, out-compete, and defeat our adversaries no matter the domain air, space, cyber."
Other VIP attendees were Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Air Force Chief of Staff, General John Raymond, Chief of Space Operations.
For this year's graduation event, cadets are allowed a maximum of eight guests for the ceremony. All guests of a cadet will be assigned seating and be treated as a 'family' per COVID-19 precautions from the Department of Defense.
The US Air Force Thunderbirds will be conducted a performance for this year's event, unlike 2020 where only a flyover was conducted.
The class of 2021 also included 15 international students from the following countries: Cameroon, Georgia, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Tunisia.
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