US VP Addresses Air Force Academy Class of 2024 Graduates

The White House

Falcon Stadium

El Paso County, Colorado

10:19 A.M. MDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)

Good morning. And congratulations to the cadets of Air Force Academy Class of 2024. (Applause.)


THE VICE PRESIDENT: To Secretary Frank Kendall, General Chance Saltzman, General David Allvin, Lieutenant General Richard Clark, and to all the friends and loved ones and sponsor families of these extraordinary graduates, thank you all for what you have done to support them in this journey. And, again, I applaud all that you have done every day.

In 2020, as a United States senator, it was my privilege to nominate five cadets to this class: Lynlee Davis, Elizabeth Deards, Kyle Moats, Noelle Mourani, and Jaricsa Vega. (Applause.)

And as Vice President, I know firsthand the excellence produced by this academy.

With me here with me today is Lieutenant Colonel Debra Starkey, Class of 2009, the first Space Force guardian to serve as Military Aide to the Vice President; Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Fulton, Class of 2007; and Major Anthony Navaroli, Class of 2013, who flew me here on Air Force Two. (Applause.)

And since taking office, I have flown nearly 400,000 miles, across continents, with the help of graduates of this very academy. So, it is my firsthand experience that this academy produces some of the greatest pilots in the world. (Applause.) Indeed.

Cadets, today you join generations of Americans who have graduated from this extraordinary institution. And let us reflect, then, on what that has required of you.

You survived Beast and Recognition, Triple Threats and Core Astro, and many of you even made it through Sijan Hall. (Laughter.) Many.

Together, you also celebrated victories at Acceptance Day and Commitment, and at Ring Dance and Job Drops. And, I am told, on occasion, you did some celebrating off campus as well at Parkway — (applause) — and at Dub House — (applause) — mostly, apparently, on Thursdays. (Laughter.)

And I am informed that if you came back a little late and missed DI or if you were one of the cadets who decided to, quote, "borrow" the superintendent's license plate that today you could still have some tours to march off. (Laughter.)

Well, and I think your parents and family would be happy to know, you should know that I believe in the power of redemption. So, to all whom this applies, listen carefully: I hereby waive any confinements and restrictions for minor violations of the cadet disciplinary system. (Applause.) You're welcome. (Laughs.)

Class of 2024 —


THE VICE PRESIDENT: — four years ago, you arrived here as strangers. And today, you graduate as one class and one family, united in selfless dedication to service and to our country.

I believe there is no more noble work that one can do than to serve our nation in uniform. On behalf of our Commander-in-Chief, President Joe Biden, and our entire nation, it is my honor to congratulate you on taking your place in the Long Blue Line. (Applause.)

Today — today, you join the United States Joint Force, our sword and shield.

Today, you join the ranks of the United States military, warriors who possess extraordinary skill, discipline, and dedication.

Today, you join the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen. (Applause.)

Next month, we mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, that shining moment of Allied bravery and sacrifice made possible because of America's air power.

In the months leading up to the landings, it was our pilots, our planes, and our air crews that knocked the enemy from the sky. It was America's forces in the air that bombed train tracks and fuel depots to prevent Nazi reinforcements from reaching the frontlines and helped defeat tyranny and fascism in Europe.

Eighty years ago, over the beaches of Normandy, America won control of the skies, and we have kept it ever since.

From air-to-air combat over the Korean Peninsula to providing close air support in Vietnam, from our dominance in Desert Storm and the Balkans to Iraq and Afghanistan, America's record of air and space superiority has been unmatched and unbroken.

And today, around the world, our allies are in awe and our adversaries in fear of America's dominance in the air.

We see it on NATO's eastern flank, where our air patrols deter Putin from extanding [extending] and expanding his war of aggression.

We see it in Ukraine, where our weapon deliveries and missile warnings help the people of Ukraine defend their homes and homeland, their sovereignty and territorial integrity.

We see it in the Indo-Pacific, where our presence ensures a free and open region.

We see it in space, where America's military watchful eye protects and supports our forces.

And we see it in the Middle East, where, last month, when Iran launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, it was our air and space forces that mounted an unprecedented defense along with our allies and partners. More than 300 drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles were fired at Israel. And thanks to our airmen and guardians, 99 percent of those threats did not hit their target.

Cadets — (applause) — as it has been for generations, America's national security and global stability depend on our strength in the sky and space. And as officers, our nation is counting on you to preserve and extend that strength, including, I will add, through your ability to innovate.

Since the days of Kitty Hawk, the United States has led the world in aerospace innovation: the first modern drone, the first GPS satellite, the first stealth aircraft.

And you are uniquely positioned to carry on this legacy of innovation. Because, after all, your generation grew up online.

Technology that might be unfamiliar or intimidating — maybe to some people on this stage; I don't know — but to previous generations is intuitive and even exciting to you.

Here at the Academy, it is you that built aircraft designed to neutralize drones, you who learned how to use AI to protect military technology in space. And as a point of personal pride, as Chair of the National Space Council, I was particularly proud to learn that, last November, you designed, built, and launched your own satellite, FalconS-X — -SAT-X. (Applause.) FalconSAT-X.

And I am confident that as the nature of warfare changes, you will make sure that no one will ever match, must [much] less exceed, America's military power.

As you innovate and shape our future, be guided, then, by the foundational beliefs that have defined our nation for centuries.

Today, is not only a graduation; it is a commissioning. In a few moments, you will take an oath — not to a person, not to a political party, but to the Constitution; an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic"; an oath to uphold our nation's highest ideals of liberty, equality, and justice and to preserve and protect our democracy.

This tradition goes back to the founding of our nation. And even in a world of continuous change, this oath — well, it remains constant. And I am confident that both in and out of uniform, this oath and the ideals it represents will guide you in all that you do.

Class of 2024 —


THE VICE PRESIDENT: — I will conclude with this. As 4 degrees, as has been mentioned, you chose an exemplar to inspire and guide you: Mayor — Major, excuse me, LeRoy Homer, Jr., a 1987 graduate of this academy and First Officer of United Flight 93 on September 11th, 2001.

As has been said, Major Homer was a true American hero who gave his life to protect our country.

And here today, as my honored guests, I've invited Major Homer's wife, Melodie, and daughter, Laurel, to join us. And, Melodie and Laurel, thank you for all your family has done to serve our nation. (Applause.)

So, looking out at these cadets, we know Major Homer's vision and his spirit lives on.

And, graduates, then, finally, I will say: Wherever you go from here, you are ready. You all are ready. You have the skills; you have the knowledge and the strength of character to meet any challenge. You are warriors. You have dedicated yourselves to the service of our nation.

And America's security relies on you. I know you will make our country proud.

And as your Vice President, it is my profound honor to congratulate you on this tremendous accomplishment and to soon address you as graduates of the United States Air Force Academy.

God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

Thank you. (Applause.)

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