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Instructor fuels Iraqi's thirst for knowledge

  • Published
  • By Cadet Third Class Cristina Pawlica
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
Tech. Sgt. Randy Davidson stood in a lab like he has done hundreds, if not thousands of times, testing the quality of a fuel product.

It's his job. The quality of fuel used could mean the difference between an aircraft sitting on the tarmac or soaring in the sky.

But this latest lab sample wasn't to determine whether or not the current supply of fuel is usable. It's part of Sergeant Davidson's efforts to teach Iraqis how to serve as fuels technicians for their own air force.

The 366th Training Squadron instructor has been in country since February, providing the same type of training as Airmen-in-Training here receive. But, there was a little twist on the first day of class. Instead of beginning the instruction in English, Sergeant Davidson began in Arabic.

He said his goal was to show that he accepted their culture and was attempting to learn their language. He said he felt he earned a higher level of respect from his Iraqi students because he took the time to learn the few words of Arabic.

"You might miss pronounce some of the words, but they know that you are trying," Sergeant Davidson said. "You will be surprised what speaking a little Arabic will do for you. You will go far with them."

Although he was able to limitedly speak Arabic, Sergeant Davidson still relied on an interpreter during his courses.

As if the language barrier wasn't a big enough challenge, having the appropriate equipment on hand to adequately teach his students provided another challenge. He said classes are held in cinder-block buildings that don't have the training aids found in Sheppard classrooms.

He also relies on the fuels shop at Balad Air Base to help in other areas of instruction. The class ventures over to the fuels yard for a training session on the intricacies of fuel delivery when the fuels personnel at the air base aren't using the massive trucks.

"I had to adapt to overcome," Sergeant Davidson said. "You can still accomplish the mission without some of the luxuries that you are used to. I learned how to adapt to all types of environments and situations and that is something that you need to do in order to be successful."

Not only is Sergeant Davidson training the Iraqis on how to be fuels technicians, but also how to train future Iraqi fuels technicians.

Capt. Majken Tutty, commander of the 366th TRS, described her deployed instructor's duties as "phenomenal." She said he's not only representing Sheppard, but the entire fuels career field.

"He's really making a difference over there in the Iraqis' lives," Captain Tutty said. "It's something to be very proud of."

Although Sergeant Davidson's time in Iraq will soon come to an end, he said he has enjoyed standing up the first fuels training course for the IAF.

"They are genuinely good people," he said. "You have to get to know them and show them you really care and you will win their trust and respect. I have a lot of respect for them and I gained long lasting friendships. I will never forget my students."

The sergeant's first class graduated June 28.