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NEWS | Nov. 30, 2016

Finishing an era: Final Swedish class graduates

By Airman 1st Class Derek Seifert 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Swedish air force maintainers officially became UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter repairers on Nov. 23, 2016, after traveling to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, to complete the Aircraft and Systems Repairer course tailored to their needs.

In order to attend, the Swedish maintainers were required to be officers or NCOs who had close to three years of aircraft general technical training. The course was modified to six weeks, giving the students the necessary training to work on Blackhawks.

One officer and seven NCOs were awarded graduation certificates as the final class to attend the course by their U.S. Air Force and Army instructors.

“It was a great experience,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua Searcy, 128th Aviation Brigade instructor. “These are some of the most technical, intelligent and disciplined people I have ever had the chance to work with.”

The language barrier caused very little issue between the class and instructors as the Swedish students came prepared to learn from the U.S. military.

“I was pretty good at reading English, but now I can speak it relatively well since we spoke it all the time here,” said Swedish air force Staff Sgt. Jakob Fredriksson, 216th Maintenance Wing helicopter technician. “I got to see how other countries work. I not only got to talk to Americans, but Mexicans, Greeks and people from a lot of other countries.”

According to Searcy, the camaraderie between a country’s service members can be easily seen, but as other countries join together, that friendship takes time to build.

“There was just a mutual respect, not just between Soldiers or military members, but between aircraft maintainers,” said Searcy. “It was very easy to intermesh with them and build that camaraderie that made an easy teaching environment.”

After this experience, Fredriksson looks forward to getting back to his unit and applying the knowledge he gained during the course.

“I will put my new knowledge to work and participate in Sweden’s largest exercise in over 20 years and make sure the helicopters are operational,” said Fredriksson.