MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. (AFNS) --
Two Bulgarian air force members recently completed professional military leadership education here through the Tennessee National Guard’s State Partnership Program.
Sgt. Yordanka S. Petrova-Angelova attended six weeks of training at the NCO Academy and Cpl. Stoyko V. Stoykov attended five weeks of Airman Leadership School.
The two Bulgarian students successfully graduated along with 334 U.S. service members from across the Air Force, the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command and the Coast Guard in a ceremony attended by Tennessee National Guard senior leaders and international guests such as Brig. Gen. Stefan Yanev, the defense attaché of the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Officials credited the efforts between the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Eeducation Center, the office of the Secretary of the Air Force (International Affairs), and State Partnership Program officers from Joint Forces Headquarters, Tennessee National Guard, for the successful program.
“The TEC’s host wing, the 134th Air Refueling Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard, played a key role in making this a success,” said Chief Master Sgt. Donald E. Felch, the commandant of the Lankford EPME Center.
“Three hundred and thirty-six of you have worked together for many goals, for many weeks,” he said to the graduates. “Your day has arrived. Be proud. We are proud of you.”
Stoykov said he was thankful to both militaries for allowing him the opportunity to attend the training and represent his country.
“If I had the chance, I would do this again,” he said. “Those things we learn here are not just written words, but things that are beneficial to our lives.”
Governors and adjutants general in all 54 states and territories use their National Guards to build relationships in various corners of the world through the training program. The partnership between Tennessee and Bulgaria began more than 20 years ago.
“It started with a handshake and hopefully it will not end for a very long time,” said Army Maj. Gen. Terry Haston, Tennessee’s adjutant general, who has travelled to Bulgaria more than two dozen times.
The Lankford EPME Center, a division of the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center, holds the largest volume of EPME in the Air Force. Every year, thousands of service members, including those from Canada, arrive on the campus to study and practice Air Force heritage, leadership, management and communication skills.
“It’s really good that they got to come here, because they got to start at the top,” Haston said. “I know the quality that this academy provides.”
Officials from both countries have voiced hope for sustained training opportunities for their service members.