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Nine airmen became the first Air Force recruits to graduate from initial skills technical training as F-35A crew chiefs, according to a release from Eglin AFB, Fla., home of the initial joint F-35 schoolhouse. “The opportunity to be the first of something so important means a lot. I know many people are looking at us to be the best. It’s a big honor,” said A1C Saovada Pum, one of the airmen who graduated on Aug. 7. To earn the crew chief designation, the airmen completed months of training at two bases and with three squadrons following their graduation from basic military training, states the Aug. 12 release. The process started with aircraft fundamentals with the 362nd Training Squadron at Sheppard AFB, Texas, then shifted to Eglin for F-35-specific training with the 359th TS, followed by mission-ready airmen training with Det. 19 of the 372th TS. The training was as advanced at the aircraft itself, utilizing hands-on work with F-35s and sophisticated simulators to learn how to use off-board computers and the airplane’s diagnostic capabilities, states the release.