Graduating the future of flight: Class 24-11

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Harrison Sullivan
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Thirty U.S. Air Force officers were awarded the coveted silver wings as a symbol of their hard work and training during a graduation ceremony held June 21, 2024.

Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) is a training program that helps prepare prospective military pilots. Upon completion of the program, graduates earn their silver wings as Air Force aviators.

The guest speaker at the Class 24-11 graduation ceremony was U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Mark Dillon, Vice Commander, Pacific Air Forces, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and the Deputy Theater Air Component Commander to the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command. General Dillon was commissioned in 1984 through Officer Training School. He began his career as a space shuttle systems engineer. A distinguished graduate from undergraduate pilot training, General Dillon has commanded at the squadron, group, and twice at the wing level. His staff assignments include: Headquarters U.S. Air Force, U.S. Transportation Command liaison to U.S. Southern Command, United Nations Command/U.S. Forces Korea, and his current position. General Dillon is a command pilot with more than 3,500 flying hours in the KC-10, C-5, T-38, C-17, C-130J and KC-135. Maj. Gen Dillon is also the father of 2nd Lt. Jack Dillion who graduated June 21, 2024.

Receiving their pilot wings during the ceremony were:

Maj. Van Canh Tran

Capt. Brennan Jones

Capt. Benjamin Rodgers

1st Lt. Bowen Lin

2nd Lt. Zachary Argo

2nd Lt. Wyatt Boswell

2nd Lt. Kyle Capogna

2nd Lt. Crystal Cash

2nd Lt. Blake Cerney

2nd Lt. Jaden Dapilmoto

2nd Lt. Jack Dillion

2nd Lt. Alex Ehrenstein

2nd Lt. Isaac Fisher

2nd Lt. Wyatt Foote

2nd Lt. Grady Gills

2nd Lt. Antonio Izquierdo

2nd Lt. Riley Jones

2nd Lt. Alexandra Mucci

2nd Lt. Emily Mueller

2nd Lt. Bradley Owens

2nd Lt. Aaron Pang

2nd Lt. Shane Pierson

2nd Lt. Alexandra Prusak

2nd Lt. Camila Quintero Hilsaca

2nd Lt. Josh Rivera

2nd Lt. Matthew Simmons

2nd Lt. Alexander Van Cleave

2nd Lt. Michael Whittaker

2nd Lt. Nathan Wiley

2nd Lt. Ashton Wright


In addition to the graduation ceremony, a special emphasis was placed on recognizing the sacrifices and contributions of military spouses. It served as a reminder that while the graduates were the ones receiving their wings, their achievements were also a testament to the love, sacrifice and constant support of their spouses, who serve alongside them in spirit and strength.

“Military spouses are often said to ‘live in the shadows’,” said Lt Col. Libby Music, Commander of the  47th Student Squadron. “Although not in uniform, spouses have an essential role to play and are the backbone of the military community. Tonight is about your pilots earning their wings, but also a recognition of you. Your love, sacrifice and ad nauseam quizzing of bold face procedures has not gone unnoticed.”

The ceremony proceeded with the breaking of the wings, a tradition symbolizing the start of a new journey for the novice pilots. According to the tradition, the first pair of wings a pilot receives should never be worn. Instead, the wings should be broken into two halves to invite good fortune throughout the pilot’s aviation career. One half is kept by the pilot, while the other is given to a significant person in their life. To preserve that good luck, those two halves are said to only be brought together again in the next life.

The event culminated in the pinning of the wings, where friends and family members affixed a pair of silver wings onto the graduates’ uniforms. This gesture signified the official transition of the students into winged aviators, fully prepared to embrace the forthcoming roles within the United States Air Force.

Pilot wings are a symbol of hard work, training, and dedication. Aviation wings are issued to pilots who have achieved a certain level of proficiency or training.