Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told the 983 graduating cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy that now their missions commence and he expects them to follow in the footsteps of giants.
Mattis was the commencement speaker at the Colorado Springs, Colorado, school.
The secretary told the graduates that they must make the Air Force better every day. “You must make it into your own image and you have a legacy to carry forward,” he said.
The retired Marine Corps general told the cadets that they must lead by example as they enter the force. “More than any other piece of your leadership, it will be your example that most inspires and shapes our Air Force for the future,” he said.
While the new lieutenants will be the future of the force, they should look to the past for examples, the secretary said. He pointed to the Doolittle Raiders of World War II who lifted the spirits of a shocked country by launching a bombing attack on Japan from an aircraft carrier. He pointed to the bombing attacks against oil production targets in Ploesti, Romania, during World War II that sought to strangle the Nazi war machine and which took incredible casualties to accomplish the mission.
The secretary also pointed to the 41 Air Force aerial aces from the Korean War, and the graduates of the class of 1968, who a few short months after graduating,…