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Story by: Technical Sergeant Michael Riccardi Jr., and Senior Airman Christopher S. Muncye - 106th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
Dated: Tue, Feb 11, 2014
WESTHAMPTON BEACH, NY --The Republic of South Africa’s Brigadier General Mashoro Abel Phala, the Senior Defense Attaché, visited the 106th Rescue Wing at Francis S. Gabreski Airport, Saturday, February 8, 2014 to highlight the 10-year partnership between the New York National Guard and The Republic of South Africa, and to help the Wing celebrate its Annual Black History Month Event on Sunday.
During his visit here, General Phala toured the 101st, 102nd and 103rd Rescue Squadrons, viewing the aircraft and equipment, and speaking with airmen from their respective squadrons about the rescue mission.
“What surprised me was the overwhelming welcome I have received,” Phala said. “This tour has been very impressive, and this will help bring our two forces together. The South African military mission is very large,” he continued, “and we need to have a lot of the same capabilities our New York partners have.”
In addition, Phala was the keynote speaker, working directly with Senior Master Sergeants Lindsay C. Cunningham and Edwin E. Mondezie Jr. to make the Wing’s Black History Month Celebration a success.
"For us all to grow and to progress, we have to learn to forgive; and for us all to respect one another, Phala told the Airmen.
As he described the New York �“ South African military partnership, he relayed the idea, that the South Africans and New Yorkers belong together.
Since 2003, the New York Air National Guard and Army National Guard have worked with their counterparts in the South African National Defense Force.
During this time, Guardsmen have participated in air shows, attended South African military schools and leadership conferences. At the same time, the New York Army and Air National Guard have hosted South African military members at various facilities and events. The lessons and training shared include small unit tactics, senior NCO and officer development, environmental protection, port security and facility management.