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Latin American cadets learn about airlift

Latin American cadets, hosts from the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force's International Affairs Office and personnel from the 436th Airlift Wing, stand in front of a C-5M Super Galaxy Oct. 15, 2015, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The nose of the aircraft is in the raised position as part of the demonstration given to the cadets showing how heavy equipment can roll-on/roll-off of the cargo transport aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Greg L. Davis)

Latin American cadets, hosts from the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force's International Affairs Office and personnel from the 436th Airlift Wing, stand in front of a C-5M Super Galaxy Oct. 15, 2015, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The nose of the aircraft is in the raised position as part of the demonstration given to the cadets showing how heavy equipment can roll-on/roll-off of the cargo transport aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Greg L. Davis)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFNS) -- Base officials hosted 26 cadets from 13 countries in Central and South America as they toured the base's transport aircraft types during a visit Oct. 15.

The cadets were introduced to the C-5M Super Galaxy and C-17A Globemaster III and their crews during a tour of static aircraft on the main parking ramp as part of a professional development exchange called the Latin American Cadet Initiative. LACI is arranged through the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force's International Affairs Office-Latin American and Africa Division, and takes place each October.

The cadets on the tour represent the top two cadets from their respective countries and many are destined to be their air force's senior leaders in the coming years.

"Most will become pilots," said Lt. Col. Orbelin Arreola, the SAF-IA chief. "We want them to remember everything good about the U.S., especially the U.S. Air Force because they hold us at the highest level."

The visit to Dover is part of a whirlwind, month-long tour across the U.S. which includes visits to all three U.S. military academies, major landmarks in New York, Washington, D.C., the Grand Canyon, plus experiences with the Army, Air Force, Navy and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy in San Antonio. The cadet trip is funded by the SAF-IA Office and recognized by leaders both here and abroad as a program of high-interest and high-reward for military-to-military relations, Arreola explained.

Before getting on a bus to conclude the tour of Dover AFB, El Salvador Air Force Academy Cadet Raul Granados reflected on his experience learning about how the Air Force conducts airlift.

"It's amazing and a little bit overwhelming,” Granados said. “Our country's air force is so tiny compared to the United States Air Force."

Validation of the LACI has not only lasting, but almost immediate, impressions on the lives of these future leaders. Granados' expressed his reflections on having interacted with the professional aircrews at Dover.

"I want to be a pilot and was considering being a fighter pilot," he said. "Knowing the importance of the C-5 and C-17 missions makes me think of being a cargo pilot now."

The cadets left Dover AFB to visit bases in Virginia before they headed west for stops in Texas, Arizona and Colorado where they will finish at the U.S. Air Force Academy during Fall International Week.

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