Partner nation students attend basic military training graduation

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

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – More than 100 international military students from partner nations across the Western Hemisphere gathered at the Pfingston Reception Center Oct. 7 to watch nearly 700 trainees become Airmen and Guardians.

These students are attending courses at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy and visited Basic Military Training as part of a field studies program event. These events are a federally mandated initiative designed to provide international students with a cultural immersion during their studies in the U.S.

Col. José Jiménez Jr., IAAFA commandant, and Chief Master Sgt. Emilio Avila, IAAFA superintendent, greeted the students as they watched the trainees march across the Airmen’s Arena.

“I want you to have in mind that all of these individuals are volunteers,” Avila said. “This is the foundation. This takes so much commitment not only from the service member, but for the entire family.”

International military support staff translated the ceremony for the students from Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador and Guatemala.

“This is a very good experience to learn about a new ceremony and this new force,” said Lt. Jose Mantilla, Colombian Army. “We have similar ceremonies, but different marches and the protocol is also different.”

Aside from the differences, Maj. Marcela Moreno, Colombian Navy, found common ground with Airman Basic Javier Fraga, one of the newest Airmen who stood alone after the event among hundreds of Airmen and their families.

After a short greeting in English, she asked, “Hablas espanol?” He did. “Can I give you a hug?” she asked in Spanish.

“We are so proud of you,” she said as they shared a hug.

“I think this is beautiful,” Moreno said. “Looking around, I can see the discipline and the desire that they have to succeed. I promise, this hug made my day.”