News: Afghan Air Force Thunder Lab advisors celebrate accomplishments
Story by Capt. Robert Leese
KABUL, Afghanistan - For Lt. Col. Wayne McCaskill and Royal Air Force Flight Lt. John Parry, each day starts and ends at the Afghan Air Force’s Thunders Lab, an English Immersion Lab, designed to help Afghan junior officers become more proficient in English. However, those days are coming to a close as they both are slated to leave Afghanistan within the next week.
On Feb. 24, the AAF lieutenants and fellow cadre members recognize their accomplishments with mementos to remember their time in Afghanistan prior to their departure. The AAF lieutenants presented them with an Afghan formal robe and a Massoud hat.
Lt. Col. McCaskill served as the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing’s Director of the Operations for the last 12 months and returns to 509th Weapons Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.
Lt. Col. John Howard, the officer-in-charge of the Thunder Lab explained, “We have been fortunate to have you here and you have a huge impact on Thunder Lab operations. Every one of the lieutenants can talk about how you helped them with their lessons and improve their vocabulary.”
Lt. Col. McCaskill was one of the first volunteers to move into the Thunder Lab during its first few months of training. He explained that the AAF lieutenants made his yearlong tour enjoyable.
Lt. Col. McCaskill spoke to the crowd, “This has been a very unique experience for me. I thought I was coming over here to work with the Afghan Air Force and not be involved in training the next generation of AAF leaders. The Thunder Lab didn’t exist when I got here. You guys [AAF lieutenants] are the future of your country. You know what needs to change and we look forward to you being the future leaders. You will make Afghanistan better.”
Flight Lt. Parry was fully immersed with the Afghan lieutenants living side by side with them. During his two months at the Thunder Lab, he provided a different perspective on flight operations, western cultural and language to the Afghan lieutenants.
During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Howard stated, “John was great and has made a positive impact here at the Thunder Lab. I know that I am not the only one who will be sad to see him leave.”
Flight Lt. Parry was awarded the NATO medal and Lt. Col. Howard presented him with a military coin for his efforts in helping shape the future of the AAF.
Flight Lt. Parry speaking to crowd of advisors and AAF lieutenants explained, “A great opportunity arose and I volunteered to come out here to help teach you guys. The people I have been working alongside, Colonel Howard and the rest of the advisors, it has been absolutely amazing and they have made it very easy for me. You guys [AAF lieutenants] are the reason we are all here and as long as you don’t forget that and keep working as hard as you have done, I am sure you will all excel in the jobs that you are going to do for the AAF…Good luck in the future.”