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First graduating USAFA class visits Eglin AFB

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Abigail Duell
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

Forging future combat airpower doesn’t happen without reflecting on the legacy of Airmen who paved the way before us.  

The first class of the United States Air Force Academy visited the 33rd Fighter Wing on Jan. 26, 2024. During their visit, the Class of 1959 alumni received a mission brief, a tour of the Academic Training Center and viewed an F-35A Lightning II.  

“Giving a tour to the first-ever graduating class was inspiring,” said Capt. Thomas Allen, 58th Fighter Squadron Flight Commander. “They were excited to see how far the Air Force has come since they were part of it and they had incredible stories to share.” 

The class began with 306 students who spent their first three years at Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado. During their fourth year, the class transitioned over to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to continue their academics. On June 3, 1959, 207 cadets made history when they walked across the stage at graduation to receive their diplomas.  

“To be a part of the first class to ever graduate from the USAFA is humbling and a great honor,” said retired Maj. Gen. Richard Carr. “We got to establish the sort of things that are now engrained in today’s Air Force.” 

Gathering every five years, this 65th reunion allowed the cadets-turned-veterans the chance to reflect on their journeys and lessons learned throughout their time in the service.  

“Over my lifetime, the most valuable thing I can say is education, education, education,” said retired Col. Robert Blake. “It doesn’t have to be a master’s degree, just something you pursue that you are passionate about. Education has exploded opportunities for me and it opens the aperture of what you're doing.” 

Not only does this tour allow the Class of 1959 to reflect on their endeavors, but it also allows the Nomads the opportunity to reflect and grow.  

“My biggest takeaway from the event was that no matter how long it has been since you have served, even if for a short period, it will probably be the most impactful thing in your life,” said Allen. “The Nomads have written much history and have a long way to go. Happy to be here, proud to serve!”