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NEWS | Nov. 25, 2022

Driggers serves as BMT graduation reviewing official for first time as JBSA, 502nd ABW commander

By Stefanie Antosh 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Brig. Gen. Russell D. Driggers served as reviewing official for basic military training graduation parade for the first time as commander of Joint Base San Antonio and 502nd Air Base Wing, at JBSA-Lackland, Texas, Nov. 23, 2022. 

Driggers spoke to the families and friends of the graduating Airmen as the sound of F-16 jet engines roared in the background. 

“There’s nothing better than the sound of freedom as we begin graduation of the newest Airmen of the world’s greatest Air Force,” Diggers said.

“To the moms, dads, grandparents, siblings: thank you. Seven-and-a-half weeks ago you trusted your loved ones, our nation’s most beloved treasure, into the hands of the professionals of basic military training and they’ve now become the Airmen in front of you.” 

Driggers then turned to address the graduates on the parade field, and said, “You have raised your hand in a time when you’ve known nothing but conflict. Our nation’s been at war the entire time you’ve been alive, nevertheless, you raised your hand to join this nation’s Air Force, to defend our liberties, and to honor our nation’s cause. Thank you.”

After noting some of the tasks trainees must perform during BMT – rolling socks, pushups, running – Driggers emphasized how these tasks engrain in trainees the Air Force values.

“It’s about [instilling] the core tenants of military service, discipline and mission focus,” Driggers said. “Integrity first, always do what’s right no matter if anyone’s looking; service before self, keeping that focus on the mission and be willing to sacrifice to get the mission done and take care of your fellow Airmen; and it’s about excellence, which knows no color nor creed. Excellence is a creed in itself and you go after that day in and day out. That’s what we’ve trained and endeared in these Airmen.”

He continued to describe how BMT instills in trainees the importance of being a good wingman, always looking out for one another.

Driggers shared a personal story from early in his career when he successfully performed a high-risk mission because of the Airmen who supported him and the mission. His story focused on the specific Airmen who enabled him to be medically fit to fly, ensured the avionics in his plane properly worked, and how the plane functioned as intended. His examples demonstrated how, collectively, each Airman’s job directly supports the pilots who execute the Air Force mission to fly, fight and win.

Before administering the oath of enlistment to the 681 graduating Airmen, Driggers reminded them of the duty they are about to swear or affirm to uphold.

“Here in a moment, you’re going to raise your right hand and you’re going to swear to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Sometimes I think we forget that first paragraph of the Constitution of the United States. It says: ‘We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, to ensure domestic tranquility, secure the blessings of liberty,’” he said.

“You are signing to defend those very freedoms and those liberties. And I thank you for stepping up to the plate and doing that.”

Driggers administered the oath of enlistment to the graduating Airmen before he released them on liberty with their guests.