Sheppard Lost a Hero

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux
  • 82nd Training Wing commander
Ahmed Al Amran, Colonel, Iraqi Air Force. Ever heard of him?

Some of you may have. He was TDY to Sheppard during the late summer and fall attending a course for new aircraft maintenance officers called the Aircraft Maintenance Officers Course (AMOC). He graduated in December and happily headed back to his homeland eager to help build the Iraqi Air Force into an organization that could help defend a free and secure Iraq.

The attached picture shows Col Ahmed accepting his graduation certificate in our Sheppard Club from Brig Gen Close who presided over the ceremony.

Unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending. Colonel Ahmed was gunned down by terrorists in Baghdad on Sunday in his own neighborhood as he sat in his car preparing to go to his job at the Iraqi Air Force Headquarters.

He was the second Iraqi Air Force maintenance officer to be murdered in the last week.

His family, friends, co-workers and those here at Sheppard in the 360th TRS who trained him are grieving and our thoughts and prayers go out to them.

This is a tough loss for all who knew Colonel Ahmed. During his time with us, he was known as a bright, articulate officer with a great sense of humor and a deep and abiding commitment to his homeland.

While he was here, I spoke to him several times, and he expressed a very real concern that he would be a target when he returned to Iraq. He said his "value" to the terrorists actually increased because of the knowledge and skills that he would learn from our AMOC course. Despite this, he said it was "his duty" to return to Iraq and fight for its future. He told me there was no other choice.

There are a couple lessons from this sad story.

First, we often hear about the sacrifices that our own troops are making in Iraq in the war on terror - we also need to realize that thousands of brave Iraqi citizens and military members are fighting and dying for their country. These Iraqi heroes line up day after day to join their military or police, at great risk to their own life, to do their part to make Iraq free and secure.

We often hear of the commitment and zealousness of the terrorists - their determination is more than matched and put to shame by Iraqi heroes like Colonel Ahmed.

A final lesson for us at Sheppard from Colonel Ahmed's untimely death is that we are fully engaged in the Global War on Terror - we are preparing those who will be on the front lines. Besides training our own pilots, maintainers, medics, engineers and communicators, we are also training NATO and coalition partners who are absolutely committed with us to the Global War on Terror. We can't win this fight alone - we need their help and support.

And unfortunately, we'll need more brave heroes like Colonel Ahmed who are willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice to keep our world free and secure.

Thanks Colonel Ahmed for inspiring us and renewing our determination to continue this fight and do our part to continue to train and equip the Iraq Air Force. And thanks Team Sheppard for all you do to support this noble effort.