The highest ranking uniformed officer in the Air Force told local graduates of the Air Force Institute of Technology that their school developed technology that saved his life 20 years ago.
“I wouldn’t be standing here tonight as your chief without the forward-thinkers and the problem-solvers that this institution has produced,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, speaking Thursday night at the graduation ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Museum.
IN-DEPTH LOCAL NEWS: Why an incoming stealth fighter program could be a ‘franchise that goes on forever’ for Wright-Patt
Goldfein said aircraft ejection procedures developed by AFIT graduates saved his life in 1999, quipping that his aircraft had “expertly intercepted” an enemy surface-to-air missile.
He said it takes a series of “technical miracles,” for an ejection to work correctly. Any step along the way could go wrong but didn’t, thanks to AFIT graduates who worked through every detail.
Goldfein spoke while congratulating a graduating class of 203 Air Force officers, two Air Force Non-Commissioned officers, nine Army officers, two Marine Corps officers and 15 civilians. The school also had two international students from Australia and Brazil.
There were 214 master’s degrees and 20 doctorate degrees awarded by the graduate school, which offers degrees in engineering, applied science and selected areas of management.
Victory is not a birthright, said Goldfein, but has to be fought for. It takes education and continuing advancements to advance warfighting excellence.
MORE: Air Force Marathon course to change for 2019
“So our nation is going to look to you as the thought leaders to help us prepare and help solve our nation’s hardest challenges,” Goldfein said.
After touring the Air Force Research Laboratory earlier that day, he said the school’s graduates are keeping the Air Force on the cutting edge of techology.
“I have one thing to say to our adversaries: it sucks to be you,” he said.