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New Inter-American Air Forces Academy building opens at Lackland

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- U.S. and Latin American partner nation dignitaries ceremoniously opened the Inter-American Air Forces Academy's new Airfield Training Complex here today.

The $19-million building - an aircraft hanger-like facility distant from the Kelly Annex airfield- will serve the aviation maintenance training needs of students from 22 Western Hemisphere partner nations.

"More than a new home for the 318th Training Squadron, the facility serves as another milestone in the Inter-American Air Forces Academy's 68-year legacy of enriching the global community of airmen, and is vivid evidence of the United States Air Force's commitment to building and nurturing international partnerships," said Lt. Gen. Robin Rand, 12th Air Force commander.

IAAFA previously provided aircraft maintenance instruction from several nondescript hangars on the Kelly flightline. Over the past year, the training assets -including a C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft- were moved from their old facilities on Kelly to provide a thorough training experience in their new facility.

The Academy instructs in Spanish language its 34 technical and academic courses to more than 800 students a year. Upon graduation, students, from colonels to junior airmen, receive the coveted IAAFA Wings -- a symbol of significance in their home country making them members of a very select fraternity of international airmen dating back to 1943.

IAAFA's genesis was the visionary thinking of Peruvian Aeronautics Minister, General Fernando Melgar Conde. In 1943, Melgar proposed the formation of the Inter-American Air Forces Academy to the U.S. Air Force.

"(Sixty-eight) years have passed since then and I see my grandfather's proposal was not in vain," said retired Maj. Gen. Fernando Melgar Vasquez, an IAAFA graduate and Melgar's grandson. "Many officers and NCO's have passed through (IAAFA) receiving technical training and building the knowledge needed to make our Air Force more efficient and effective. For this reason, it is for me a great pride and pleasure to be here today representing General Melgar's family in this opening ceremony, remembering and exalting his memory by recognizing his brilliant idea of creating the IAAFA."

Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs contributed to this article.




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