MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho — On May 18, 2009 the Republic of Singapore activated the 428th squadron of F-15 SG's at Mountain Home Air Force Base.
This year marks the 12th year that the "Buccaneers" have received training from the United States Air Force and pilots here in Idaho.
Singapore pilot Cap. Boey Chee Siong, call sign Semi came to Mountain Home a couple of weeks ago, but this marks his second tour for Idaho.
"Without them, I don’t think I would be able to get to where I am today and this time I’m back here to learn more and hopefully become an instructor," said Semi. "That way I can teach the same things the great instructor taught me from the USAF to the guys back home."
In this partnership, American pilots are the instructors and they fly with the aviators from Singapore, it's a relationship that benefits both countries.
"It is a joy to fly with those guys as they are phenomenal aviators," said Major Duck Lynch of the U.S. Air Force. "The training we get is unlike anything else and it is an incredibly close relationship between our two nations."
Singapore sits on the tip of the Malay Peninsula in Asia surrounded by water which limits the airspace over there and Samurai told us Singapore only has one season of weather.
"It is really different airspace-wise, it is huge over here," said Semi. "There is winter here, there is summer and it really affects how the jet performs."
Coming stateside has helped Semi in his military career, but one of the biggest takeaways for this Singapore pilot is the relationships he has formed when he trained in Florida and here in Idaho, he said every chance he gets he meets up with some of his friends to check out places like Chicago or New York City.
"So we can catch up with each other and those are the great friendships from different countries in NATO that I’m glad to have and grateful to have," said Semi. "It’s all because of the partnership we have with the United States."
Semi also enjoys Idaho and our way of life, his experience here in the gem state has helped him experience things that he never could have back home in Singapore.
“It’s not like a busy place you can drive, slow down and take a chill pill," said Semi. "When winter is here it is great to be able to go up to the mountains and snowboard which is one of the things we will never get back home because in Singapore it is either rain or sun, you will never see snow so that is a great thing being back here in Mountain Home."
Semi and other pilots from Singapore as well as some Australian pilots participated in Gunfighter Flag 21-1 this past week, that large force on force training exercise concluded on Friday.
The Republic of Singapore is a key partner for the United States military as Singapore has been referred to as the gatekeeper of the Straits of Malacca, a shipping lane that connects the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean.