PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Forty three Reserve Airmen from the 920th Rescue Wing here graduated with an associate's degree from the Community College of the Air Force Dec. 5.
During the ceremony, Col. Paul "Brett" Howard, 920th RQW vice commander, presented diplomas while 920th RQW Command Chief Tim Bianchi presented special coins to each graduate.
"Earning these degrees is a significant milestone in both their military and civilian lives. Many are doing it to help them obtain a military promotion, while others recognize how it could enhance their opportunity to become a more valuable employee within their civilian jobs," said Richmond Pollock, 920th RQW education counselor.
"The Airmen being awarded these degrees deserve to be recognized. This is a special opportunity for it to happen in front of their peers, family members and leadership of both 45th Space Wing and 920th Rescue Wing," said Pollock.
In today's Air Force, a lot more emphasis is being placed on education among the enlisted force and the 920th represented well. "This was the most successful graduation in the wing's history with 124 Airmen graduating. There will be 51 more diploma recipients this year, compared to last year," said Pollock.
"Our wing finished second among 43 wings in Air Force Reserve Command for number of graduates in 2015. March Air Reserve Base garnered 13 more graduates; however they have 2,000 more reservists assigned," said Pollock.
Some of the Airmen will graduate by proxy because they are assigned to the wing's geographically separated units in Langley Virginia, Portland, Oregon. and Tuscon, Arizona.
During the presentation there were two special presentations of the William H. Pitsenbarger Award for pursuing even higher education to obtain bachelor 's degrees. Each award recipient will received a certificate and a $400 check from the Air Force Association.
CCAF degrees are all conferred as Associate in Applied Sciences, however, degree program titles mirror each Airman's Air Force Specialty. This graduating class boasts an impressive 31 different degree programs among its enlisted force. On occasion, some Airmen present the knowledge and proficiency levels required for the award of a second or subsequent degree. Nine members from this event have attained this status, with 1 showcasing her third degree.
For example, an Air Force Reserve personalist can receive their Human Resource Management degree. If they cross train into Finance, they could earn their Financial Management degree as well.
There were 73 non-military guests who attended. "To me that speaks volumes of the importance of this ceremony to our Airmen. They are so proud of this accomplishment they want people who are not normally here for their drill weekend to be present for their special day," said Pollock.
The 920th Rescue Wing is a Air Force Reserve combat search and rescue wing unit in Cocoa Beach, Fla, whose primary mission to is to rescue critically injured troops off the battlefield. The wing also provides space support as well as local search rescue support when requested by local and federal agencies. The wing has a long history of saving lives, at home and abroad.