In fact, they are not only the first new Iraqi rotary wing pilots in over six years, and they are actually the first Iraqi *Air Force* rotary wing pilots ever. That's according to BillT at the Castle, who provided the photo above and who helped train them. Go over and see more of his photos and congratulate him on a job well done!
Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq
Oct. 6, 2009
Iraq Graduates First Class of Rotary-Wing pilots in Years
KIRKUK REGIONAL AIR BASE, Iraq – The newly emerging Iraqi air force celebrated advancement in military capability when 23 airmen earned their pilot’s wings during a graduation ceremony here Sept. 27.
Eleven Iraqi officers became the first class of student pilots to earn their rotary-aircraft pilot wings in 12 to 15 years. Twelve Iraqi airmen earned their fixed-wing pilot wings.
Congratulations to the new airmen and to the GoI on this important milestone!
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Iraq, the Marines leave Anbar province after six years:
On Sept. 26, a date that will forever be marked in history, Regimental Combat Team 6, commanded by Col. Matthew A. Lopez, and RCT-8, commanded by Col. John K. Love, the last two remaining Marine Corps RCTs to deploy in support of OIF, transferred authority of their areas of operation to the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team (Advise and Assist Brigade) of the 82nd Airborne Division, commanded by Army Col. Mark R. Stammer.
The transfer of authority ceremony marked an occasion that is quite possibly the most historically prominent event for Marines in Operation Iraqi Freedom since the initial invasion in 2003.
"It is an understatement to say that we have witnessed historic events in Iraq this year, and today's ceremony is certainly an example of positive change as we transition U.S. combat forces to a new formation - one whose name is synonymous with its mission, the Advise and Assist Brigade," said Maj. Gen. R.T. Tryon, the commanding general of Multi-National Force - West. "These gains have been accomplished not because of what the U.S. forces have done, nor because of what the Iraqi security forces have done. Rather, these achievements are a result of what we have done together in partnership with one another."
A New York Times op-ed piece calls it Mission Accomplished in Anbar.
Wow. Just wow. So many mixed feelings about the events of the past six years in Iraq. But the strongest one is pride. THANK YOU US MILITARY!