MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, GA (WALB) - Moody Air Force Base became one step closer Thursday to starting their mission to train Afghan pilots and aircraft maintenance personnel.
A ceremony was held at the base Thursday morning to officially reactivate the 81st Fighter Squadron from Columbus Air Force Base in Columbus, Mississippi, which will train the Afghan Airmen when the Afghan Airmen start arriving at Moody in February.
"We're gonna be providing [the Afghan Airmen] with the skills and the knowledge that are required so that they can become the air power leaders of their country," explained Col. John Nichols, 14th Fighter Training Wing Commander and outgoing commander of the 81st Fighter Squadron.
Lt. Col. Jeffery Hogan assumed command of the fighter squadron from Col. Nichols as part of the ceremony Thursday morning after the fighter squadron had been officially reactivated.
The fighter squadron had been activated at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany since 1953 and were deactivated there in 2014 and brought to Moody in preparation for the Afghan training mission.
Around 30 citizens from Columbus attended the ceremony Thursday, including the city's mayor.
"We love Columbus Air Force Base, we appreciate Columbus Air Force Base and everything Columbus Air Force Base does for the city of Columbus and Lowndes County," said Columbus mayor Robert Smith. "That's why it was an honor and a privilege for us to show our support."
Lt. Col. Hogan said the ceremony marked an historic moment for the Air Force. "We have literally never done this mission in this way before, ever," Lt. Col. Hogan emphasized as he addressed the 81st Fighter Squadron during the ceremony.
Approximately 30 Afghan Pilots and 90 aircraft maintainers are scheduled to come to Moody over the next four to six years to learn to fly and maintain the A-29 Super Tucano Aircraft, which they will take back to Afghanistan with them at the end of the mission in 2018.