Graduates Receive Wings at Inter-American Air Forces Academy Ceremony

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

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Approximately 200 students from 11 partner nations and the U.S. Air Force are the latest members to earn their wings, a highly-coveted honor symbolizing graduation from the Inter-American Air Forces Academy.  

The service members graduated in a ceremony Dec. 6, earning certificates from 14 courses in professional military education and leadership, aircrew training and technical courses. 

Mayor of Lytle, Texas, and Air Force retired Chief Master Sgt. Ruben Gonzalez, was the guest of honor for the evening banquet honoring the graduates. Gonzalez applauded the students for reaching this important milestone in their careers. Setting an old wooden shoeshine box on the podium, Gonzalez explained it was the very gift handmade by his grandfather that taught him the value of hard work. 

As a young man growing up in Mexico, Gonzalez worked in the center of town shining shoes at the local plaza, where the community gathered. The mayor likened the plaza to IAAFA for bringing people together.  

“If you really think about it, we bring all these people together, we share ideas and help each other out … and at the same time, we celebrate,” Gonzalez said. The mayor ended his speech thanking the students for the dedication they made to their country.  

“It’s a huge commitment,” he said. 

Following the speech, Col. Bryan Tuinman, IAAFA commandant, presented Gonzalez with a plaque of appreciation. Top performing students were also recognized including the Academic Achievement for the highest-grade point average.  

Student Yaira Villar Correa from Colombia earned the Academic Achievement award in the enlisted category. Maj. Javier Aguirre from Argentina won the same award in the officer category. 

“I want you to look around the room and observe the number of influential government, community, and military leaders in attendance,” Tuinman said. “Their presence highlights the academy’s importance in the achievement of security cooperation objectives in the Western Hemisphere. You are now part of that family.”