JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --
More than 60 international military students from seven partner nations and the USAF filled an auditorium here for a ceremony to mark the end of their training at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy, April 26. Students graduated from eight courses in professional military education and leadership, aircrew training and technical courses.
Senior leaders, distinguished visitors and guests helped commemorate the event that also celebrated the academy’s 80th anniversary. This year, the affair was held at the University of Incarnate Word’s Rosenburg Sky Room to mark the special celebration. Luis Moreno, former Ambassador to Jamaica, and former Narcotics Affairs Director in Bogota, Colombia, served as guest of honor. Moreno spoke of the importance of IAAFA in Latin America, and congratulated graduates on their achievement, which he said would most likely remember as “a bright arch in their lives”.
“I’d like to extend my gratitude to our instructors, who each day not only led us to acquire knowledge in each of our courses, but for being true professionals and serving as fundamental pillars for us as students,” said Mayor Juan Verdugo of the Chilean Air Force who spoke at the graduation ceremony.
Col. Lauren Courchaine, 37th Training Wing Commander, Moreno and Capitan Jhonatan D. Escuraina Novoa of the Colombian Army performed the ceremonial cake cutting as the recipient of the General Fernando Melgar Award, an outstanding student recognition.
Escuraina, who also received the Academic Achievement Award in the officer category, and other top performing students were recognized during the banquet including Tecnico Segundo Luis Mejia De La Hoz from the Colombian Air Force, who earned the Academic Achievement Award for the highest-grade point average in the enlisted category.
Looking back at IAAFA’s history, Col. José Jiménez, Jr., IAAFA commandant, spoke of the academy’s eight decades of success as symbolizing new roles and opportunities for the institution as it charges forward and tackles new complex challenges. “As we step into the new chapters of our journeys, let us work together to build cross cultural and cross boundary partnerships to advance common goals, cultivate, deepen shared relationships, accelerate change and preserve peace and human rights,” Jiménez said.
“As my time at the institution comes to an end, I am filled with hope as I’ve caught a glimpse of what the next generation of security cooperation professionals will achieve in the coming decades.”