VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) - A graduation ceremony to remember for eight Afghan pilots before they leave to go back home.
It's also a proud day for members of Moody Air Force Base, Columbus Air Force Base, and leaders of the Valdosta community.
Moody AFB wouldn't allow the media to record the faces of the pilots for security reasons and the safety of their families. They also wouldn't release their names.
"We're going to go fight with them side by side and eventually this is going to give them the avenue so they can take care of their country and their freedoms by themselves," said Col. John J. Nichols, 14th Flying Training Wing, Columbus AFB. "This is the first step towards that process."
Last week, 12 maintence crew members graduated.
Two others would have too, but they didn't show up for training on December 7. They're still missing.
"We've put in roll calls twice a day," said Major General James Hecker, 19th Air Force Commander, Joint Base San Antonio. "For the interim, we're not letting them go off the base until we get more procedures in place to make sure this doesn't happen again."
A second class is already in training.
The graduating pilots have gone through rigorous training and now they'll take their skills back to Afghanistan along with these four Super Tucanos.
T raining continues through 2018. Upon completion, 30 pilots will have graduated, as well as 90 maintainers, and they'll get to keep a total of 20 planes.
As far as the missing trainees, Moody says there's no indication they pose any threats.
Video coming soon. Check back with www.wtxl.tv.