Only a few of them, but our female fighter pilots are leaders

314th Fighter Squadron’s Patch

It just happened, once again, now twice in a row.

A little over a week ago the 314th Fighter Squadron (L) at Holloman Air Force Base (HAFB) near Alamogordo, NM, celebrated their latest class of graduates from the F-16 Viper Fighter Pilot program: Class 22-ABH.

As usual, the El Paso-based Flight 24 of the Daedalians was on hand to present their much-coveted Leadership Award to the graduate who demonstrated the finest qualities of leadership among the graduating class’ student pilots.

Luckily, your webmaster was the official presenter at the gala dinner event, and was again pleasantly surprised to discover that the winner in this latest class was – once again – – – a female fighter pilot: Captain Melaine “FIRST” Valentin.  She clearly lived up to her official fighter pilot call sign (or “handle” as the pilots prefer), “First!”

Here’s a NEWS UPDATE thanks to one of our old-time FASF members and fellow DaedalianCol. Alan Fisher, an Air Force Academy Graduate (and Flight Captain of the El Paso Daedalian Flight), about this post’s principle subject: Capt. Melaine Valentin (The below photo is from Col. Fisher’s USAFA quarterly Magazine “Checkpoints” in which a glowingly upbeat story was just published about Captain Valentin):

Here is “FIRST’s” photo, along with one of her many artistic USAF contributions, a special inspirational boost for her fellow female USAF aviators: Capt. Melaine “FIRST” Valentin, winner of the Daedalian Leadership Award in her 314th Class.

Let’s first start off with the official 22-ABH Class video, produced by class member, Lt. Frank “MinMin” Hippler:  (suggest you use the lower right corner button to view the video full screen)

The following photos show the celebratory occasion along with the above class video, and a short clip (of fewer than two minutes in length), which shows the Class Leader, Captain Valentin,  acting as the MC for the awarding of commendatory citations to the Squadron’s support staff.  (To view any of the below photos in hi-res or HD quality, simply click on them.)

L to R: Mrs. Emily Sanford & Squadron CO, Lt. Col. Kirby Sanford, Daedalians Cols. Alan Fisher, and Mario Campos

L to R: Mrs. Sarah Rich & husband, Chaplain Nicholas Rich chatting with Daedalian Colonel Mario Campos.

Another photo of the Riches with Colonel Campos

L to R: Daedalian Flight Captain, Colonel Alan Fisher talking to Major James Hill

L to R: Colonels Campos and Fisher share photos with Major Hill

L to R: Colonel Fisher and Daedalian-FASF Webmaster, Ric Lambart in front of the 314th Squadron Emblem

More Squadron members in discussions with Colonels Fisher and Campos

Time for dinner . . . Colonel Mario Campos at far right above.

Short (1:38) video clip (above) of the graduation event.

  Ric Lambart congratulates Captain Melaine ‘First’ Valentin, Class recipient of the Daedalian Leadership Trophy

A pleased Daedalian presenter, Lambart, and newly graduated top class Leader, “First” Valentin pose for one more . . .

Squadron Commander, Col. Kirby Sanford poses with Captain Melaine Valentin, to show her Graduation Certificate

L to R: Maj. Bradford ‘Nightmare’ Waldie at the podium and new graduates: Lieutenants Jesse ‘Donde’ Maese, Chase ‘MinMin’ Hippler, Abby ‘CYA’ Maio, Cody “RNOT’ Donald, Caleb ‘Ocho’ Mathes, Vince ‘Squid’ Sabin, Gerrod ‘MosseJaw’ Smith, Trent ‘PIT’ Meisel, Capt. Melaine ‘FIRST’ Valentin, and Lts. Ellis ‘Groot’ Alexander and Nathaniel ‘Peppy’ Welch.

Flight 24 Daedalians (L to R) Alan Fisher, Ric Lambart, and Mario Campos pose with Top Leadership winner, Melaine “FIRST” Valentin.

Top Class Leader: “FIRST”  – From Class Video

                                    Melaine ‘FIRST” atop an F-16 Viper (From “MinMin’s” class video).

                   Ric Lambart talks with Captain Melaine “FIRST” Valentin about her assignment in Korea.

All of the Class of 22-ABH – “FIRST” is in middle, on the Fuselage

Many thanks for helping with this post go to “MJ” Tucker, Unit Program Coordinator for the 314th FS, Cols. Alan Fisher and Mario Campos for taking some of the photos used, and to Lt. Chase “MinMin” Hippler for creating the exceptionally high-caliber 22-ABH class video, and for letting us use it here,  Well done.

 

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  1. Pingback: FLY LIKE A GIRL! USAF Academy Magazine Story about ‘FIRST’ | First Aero Squadron Foundation ™

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