JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
More than 150 international military students from 12 partner nations and the U.S. Air Force filled an auditorium here for a ceremony to mark the end of their training at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Dec. 7.
Students graduated from 14 courses in professional military education and leadership, aircrew training and technical courses.
Leaders from the Air Education and Training Command, and the Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs attended the ceremony with IAAFA leaders and watched as the graduates received the IAAFA wings.
Maj. Gen. Julian Cheater, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, served as guest speaker for the evening’s banquet honoring the graduates. In his speech, he encouraged graduates to wear the wings proudly and embrace their role as relationship builders. “Long-term strategic and defense relationships begin with you at the person-to-person level,” Cheater said.
Mariachis provided entertainment while international military students sang along to traditional Mexican music.
Top performing students and instructors were also recognized including Suboficial Segundo Fernando Acurio Alvarez of Peruvian Police, who earned the Academic Award for the highest grade point average in the enlisted category, and Comandante de Esquadrilla Juan Verdugo Martínez of the Chilean Air Force who won the same award in the officer category.
Airman Basic Jhonier Villamil Coy of the Colombian Air Force earned the General Fernando Melgar Award, an outstanding student recognition in the enlisted category, and Teniente Primero Jose Montagno Molina of the Uruguayan Air Force, earned the same award in the officer category.
Ending the ceremony, Col. José Jiménez, Jr., IAAFA commandant, urged the graduates to use the lessons learned at IAAFA to interact with their classmates and instructors as a launching pad to create cross-cultural partnerships that advance common goals.
“Let me remind you that earning this certificate and IAAFA wings is more than an achievement,” Jiménez said. “It’s a promise to cultivate strong relationships across the security cooperation enterprise to respond to continued progress and accelerate change.”