57 graduate from School of Advanced Air and Space Studies|
Posted 6/18/2010 Updated 6/18/2010
by Carl Bergquist
Air University Public Affairs
6/18/2010 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Fifty-seven majors and lieutenant colonels graduated from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies during a ceremony attended by about 300 people Wednesday at the Maxwell Officer's Club ballroom.
Col. Timothy Schultz, SAASS commandant, told the students who made up Class 19 it had been an "interesting year." The assigned reading alone for the class was 42,870 pages.
"SAASS students live lives of quiet despair," he joked.
The colonel thanked family members for their patience and understanding during the year.
"As for you students, I quote the words of Alan Shepard when he first stepped on the moon," he said. "'It's been a long way, but we're here.'"
Colonel Shultz said he ran into SAASS student Lt. Col. Francisco Rivera after his final oral examination, which he described as being "very difficult," and he still had sweat on his brow.
"He looked at me and said, 'Sir, SAASS has been the highest and toughest mountain I have ever had to climb,'" Colonel Shultz said.
The guest speaker, Maj. Gen. Kurt Cichowski, vice commander of the Air Force Special Operations Center at Hurlburt Field, Fla., said the graduation was a significant event as only the top five percent of the Air Force is selected to attend SAASS.
"Where are the next Air Force strategists coming from? Right here," General Cichowski said. "To date, there are 617 SAASS graduates, and everywhere they go they add immeasurably to the organizations they serve."
To the graduates, the general said they will probably not remember much of what they did at SAASS, but they will remember what they did after SAASS.
"You are now marked with the SAASS label, and the expectations are high," General Cichowski said. "You are now committed to carrying your knowledge into action and to bear the burden of the struggle against the enemies of mankind."
Following the ceremony, Maj. Jeff Geragthy, who is headed for duty at the Pentagon, said graduating felt good.
"It was a great group of people to spend a year with, and I think I will miss the reading being a part of my job," he said. "SAASS has helped me see the bigger picture of air power and military service. It has also shown us how we can play our part in helping our leaders solve their problems."
Major Geragthy said an important part of his year at SAASS was the connections he made with fellow students.
"Now I know where the smart people are to call," he joked.
According to the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies website, SAASS was chartered as the School of Advanced Airpower Studies, a new Air University graduate school, in 1988 by then Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Larry Welch.
The first class graduated in June 1992. It was fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1999. It was re-designated the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in 2002. The mission of SAASS is, "To produce strategists through advanced education in the art and science of air, space, and cyberspace power to defend the United States and protect its interests."