Afghan flight crews graduate; Student search continues - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Afghan flight crews graduate; Student search continues

Gen. Hecker Gen. Hecker
Col. Nichols Col. Nichols
Mirwais Kohistani and Shirzad Rohulla are still missing Mirwais Kohistani and Shirzad Rohulla are still missing
The A-29 Super Tucano-USAF-photo The A-29 Super Tucano-USAF-photo
LOWNDES CO., GA (WALB) -

Moody Air Force Base proudly recognizes their first A-29 Afghan Pilot graduates with the 81st Fighter Squadron Friday morning. As officials continue to search for the two missing Afghan students who trained alongside them.

One by one, eight Afghan pilots walked to the stage as the first A-29 Afghan Pilot graduates.

"This is a truly amazing accomplishment that was made possible by their hard work and dedication," said Major General James Hecker.  "I'm just so proud of those Afghan pilots, and even prouder of the instructors that were able to make them fighter pilots in less than a year."

After beginning their training in February of this year, Colonel John J. Nichols says these pilots now have the skills to maintain and operate fighter planes so they can replace U-S soldiers in Afghanistan.

"Your work will help the Afghan people and give them an opportunity to stand on their own," Colonel John J. Nichols said.

The graduation ceremony comes just ten days after two Afghan Air Force students, Mirwais Kohistani and Shirzad Rohulla, were reported missing. And have yet to be found.  But officials continue to say these two men pose no apparent threat.

"This happens every now and again. Eighty-two Afghanis are being trained right now in eight different air bases.  And it's not just Afghans, other nations sometimes have people that just don't come back," said General Hecker.

And in efforts to prevent this from happening at Moody Air Force Base again, General Hecker says they are making some changes.

"We're doing roll calls twice a day.  For the interim, we're not letting them go off the base, until we get some more procedures in place to make sure this doesn't happen again," said Hecker.

But Hecker says the ongoing search for the two missing students will not and should not overshadow the dedication of this graduating class.

Hecker says officials are continuing to their search for the two students, and the Department of Homeland Security has no further information. 

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