The following excerpt is from an article by Bill at The Castle, who attended a recent graduation ceremony of the First Class of the new Iraqi Air Force Flight School. He’s also a flight instructor at the school.
……Y’see, I’m the only instructor here who can teach both starched-wing *and* fling-wing stuff, but when the starched-wing guys go on mujas, then I’m the *only* academics instructor, period, end of sentence. Ooops — mujas is the Iraqi word for “vacation”. Or “leave”. Or “git outta Dodge.”
Anyhoo, the new flight student class (the fourth one) got here just as was leaving, and the two starched-wing guys went on mujas the day *before* I got back upcountry. Hence, I got tagged to cover their classes. Did I mention we’ve got four classes of Iraqi cadets here, now? Plus the Instructor Pilot candidates?
Visualize a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.
……However, today (okay, yesterday, by the time you read this), I got a break from teaching the new kids the mysterious ways in which airplanes manage to get into the air in 30-knot crosswinds.
The place was overrun with Distinguished Visitors — Ministry of Defense, IqAF HQ, CAFTT (the Coalition Armed Forces Transition Team, formerly *Training* Team), and Iraqi media. Interesting ceremony, too – it started with both the Iraqi and US national anthems, and I got a mild case of the startles when the AK-armed Iraqi security guy standing next to me transitioned from the Iraqi-style “Present Arms” during his anthem to a flawless US-style when ours was played.
The DVs spoke in Arabic, which I couldn’t follow very well, but there were translators aplenty sitting with the Coalition contingent. Which is where I *wasn’t* — I’d moved to keep the new Baby Class company in the bleachers.
One of the kids nudged me when a DV started getting passionate in his address, and was interrupted by a standing ovation:
“He is saying that for the first time in our history, we are not doing things for one man, but we are doing it for all the people of Iraq. He is saying the US has showed us how, and we must not forget when we thank God every day, we must also ask him to bless the US.”
HOOAH, Bill! You ought to be very proud.