IAAFA graduates 59 students from U.S., international partners

  • Published
  • By Vanessa R. Adame
  • 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --Approximately 150 members of the Inter-American Air Forces Academy and distinguished guests gathered at a graduation for nearly 60 students from partner nations and the U.S. Air Force here April 15. Colombian Army Brig. Gen. Erik Rodriguez, U.S. Southern Command Director J7/9 Exercises and Coalition, served as guest speaker for the event.

The students attended courses in Pilot Instrument Procedures, Advanced Aerospace Propulsion, Cyber Security, Cyber Network, Special Reaction Team, and professional military education. The first of the alpha cycle courses kicked off in January; all of them culminated in one graduation.

Chaplain (Maj.) Keith Manry, 502nd Air Base Wing, gave the opening prayer in Spanish at the banquet.

In keeping with tradition, Col. José Jiménez, Jr., IAAFA commandant, and academy leaders pinned the alpha-class graduates – one by one – with the academy’s wings.

“I think almost every generation of officers and the majority of the region can recognize the IAAFA wings, and know those who have had the opportunity of being here and wear their wings proudly,” Rodriguez said.

During his speech, the general reminded students about the value of relationships they have built while at IAAFA and encouraged members to continue to foster them.

“Interpersonal relationships matter, interoperability between different forces is generated from a common language and common procedures, but interoperability cannot be effective if there is no personal knowledge, respect or a level of trust,” Rodriguez said.

Jiménez congratulated students and asked them to continue to keep an open mind while working with partner nations in order to be mutually beneficial to one another.

 “Your impact on your country’s future, the western hemisphere and on global security cooperation begins here at IAAFA,” Jiménez said. “The wings you earned are a symbol of the central role you will take towards the strengthening of alliances and collaboration.”

Top performing students and instructors were also recognized during the banquet including Colombian Army Maj. Cesar Lozano, who earned the highest academic average in the class.

“This would not have been possible to accomplish without my colleagues' discipline and the instructors' efforts, who boosted our potential and qualities to grow professionally and achieve excellence,” Lozano said.

Lt. Col. Carlos Hernández, IAAFA deputy commandant, provided entertainment for the guests, who included Col. Rockie K Wilson, 37th Training Wing commander; George Wilson, AETC Training and Education Deputy Director; and other area dignitaries. Hernández, a mariachi singer, belted out several songs in Spanish and had many guests singing along.

The Spanish language is the common thread that allows students from all partner nations to build and strengthen relationships at the academy – one class cycle at a time.

“It really has been an amazing experience seeing the passion, the commitment and the professionalism of all the instructors and the entire team of IAAFA,” Rodriguez said.