JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
International military students filled an auditorium at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland for a ceremony to mark the successful completion of their training at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy Aug. 10, 2022.
At the conclusion of the training cycle, approximately 200 students from the U.S. and 10 Latin American countries earned their IAAFA wings.
Capitan Leonardo Martinez of Colombia is one of the graduates graduating from the Instructor Pilot Instrument Procedures course. He described the training he received at IAAFA as physically and mentally challenging.
“The course exceeded my expectations, it’s the kind of course a student and pilot instructor seeks to strengthen their knowledge,” Martinez said.
The graduates were honored at a banquet that same day where Gen. Arturo González Ocampo, Commander of the Paraguayan Air Force, served as guest of honor. Antonio Bernabé Ayala Páez, sub-official principal, also joined González, as well as Col. Lauren Courchaine, 37th Training Wing commander, Col. José Jiménez Jr., IAAFA commandant, and other leaders from Joint Base San Antonio and the local community.
“I also studied within the same classrooms [at IAAFA], and it’s an honor to speak before such a select audience,” González told the graduates. “My presence here at IAAFA is testimony to the strong desire to continue strengthening the existing cooperation between all of the partner nations represented here by the students and instructors; in this way, together we can continue to bolster the defense and security of South America.”
Top performing students and instructors were also recognized during an awards ceremony including Suboficial Primera Sandra Gamboa of Policia de Peru, who earned the Academic Award for the highest grade point average in the enlisted category, and Teniente Cesar Benitez Gamba of the Colombian Air Force, who won the same award in the officer category.
A mariachi group and Folklorico dancers helped celebrate the new graduates, who are leaving IAAFA with great memories and new knowledge.
As for Martinez, he plans to implement all he learned once he returns to Colombia, “…with the new students, with the instructors, with the seasoned pilots, with the students who come from other countries. It’s a great opportunity to be able to multiply the knowledge that IAAFA provides us with.”
The graduated international students were enrolled in 22 separate technical, professional military education and leadership, and aircrew training courses. IAAFA is the only Air Force institution that teaches these courses in Spanish to 32 partner nations across the Western Hemisphere.