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Iraqi Air Force Training School graduates firefighters, officers

by Maj. Edwina Walton
370th Expeditionary Training Squadron Public Affairs

12/13/2007 - CAMP TAJI, Iraq (AFPN) -- American Airmen helped the first 10 Iraqi firefighters graduate Dec. 11 and 28 more Iraqi officer candidates receive their diplomas and commissions as second lieutenants Dec. 10 at the Iraqi Air Force Training School here. 

The firefighter graduation marked another first in the milestones of accomplishments for the Iraqi Air Force Training School, and the Iraqi Air Force Academy has now graduated a total of 39 second lieutenants since starting classes April 15. 

Mainly taught by American servicemembers, the 240-hour, 60-day firefighting course consisted of emergency first responder training, firefighting fundamentals, structural firefighting principles, structural fire ground operations, hazardous materials awareness training and aircraft firefighting principles. 

"For the Iraqi firefighters, the graduation ceremony denotes the capability of the Iraqi Air Force to become an independent and viable force", said Master Sgt. Philip Fourroux, a firefighting instructor who is deployed from the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron from Altus Air Force Base, Okla. "Working with the Iraqi students was a great experience. Seeing them grasp and understand the concepts we were teaching left me and my fellow instructor, Master Sgt. Matthew Simmons, with a great feeling of success and new-found kinship with our new brother firefighters."

"This group of firefighters has finished the scientific training and will be evidence of what our school can do," said Iraqi Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem, the Iraqi Air Force Training School commandant.

"As firefighters, you now have the courage to act, and the skills to fight fires, save lives, and protect valuable Iraqi air force aircraft and assets," said Lt. Col. Kim Hawthorne, the 370th Expeditionary Training Squadron commander.

"It was a great thing to see the firefighter class graduate the technical training course," said Col. Merrill Armstrong, the 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group vice commander. "It is another step for the Iraqi air force. It was heart warming to see the pride, determination and happiness in their eyes. They are truly blazing a trail for the Iraqi air force."

The 28 new officers earned their commissions by completing military drill, athletics, combat skills, followership, leadership and aviation fundamentals. 

"It is a wonderful opportunity to watch the continuous growth of the Iraqi air force," said Col. David Penny, the 370th AEAG commander. "It is truly incredible to see how far officer training in Iraq has come in a year. These young men will now go forth and lead the Iraqi air force and have an honorable future." 

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