IAAFA celebrates 79 years, unveils heritage wall

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

The Inter-American Air Forces Academy celebrated its 79th anniversary here recently with dozens of cadre, staff, and international military students. The celebration coincided with the official unveiling of a heritage wall at the headquarters’ building to commemorate its history.

The occasion also highlighted IAAFA’s evolution from a small education and training operation to become one of the U.S. Air Force’s main components to achieve strategic cooperation initiatives.

Col. Edward “Tre” Irick, 37th Training Wing vice commander, joined IAAFA’s Col. José Jiménez Jr., commandant; Chief Master Sgt. Emilio Avila, senior enlisted leader, and Col. Carlos Carrasco, international deputy commandant, in the ribbon cutting of the photo wall. Important historical events are displayed along both walls on the main hallway at IAAFA’s headquarters’ building.

“The Heritage Wall highlights key moments within our academy spanning nearly eight decades as a security cooperation institution,” Jiménez said. He added that “when combined, IAAFA’s history, repute in the Western Hemisphere, and its culture of agility and innovation make it one of the U.S. Air Force’s key Security Cooperation nodes.”

The large photos depicted on the wall – some in black and white and others bright in color – show the academy’s heritage starting from its origin in 1943 at Albrook Air Field in the Panama Canal Zone, to current day at JBSA-Lackland.

One of the latest photos, taken just months before the wall was designed, features more than two dozen female students from both the U.S. and Partner Nations surrounding Lt. Gen. Mary O’Brien, an Air Force Women’s Initiatives Team Champion.

As the academy has evolved over the last 79 years, one of its main focuses has been professional development of enlisted forces, and Women, Peace, and Security objectives. Nearly 80 years later, its history continues to be written, serving as an example to Partner Nations across the Western Hemisphere.