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