The backbone of the Air Force, NCOs are entrusted to hold mission
accomplishment and Airmen welfare in the highest regard; to mold and
shape the future of the force; and pass their legacy of valor on to
they must first be molded into NCOs.
“Sometime after [basic
military training], [technical] school and all the training in
between, I think we lose pride in the sense that we’re Airmen and
we’re leaders,” said Staff Sgt. Corey Lafay, Kish Airman Leadership School instructor at Joint Base MDL.
“We forget what it means to be a capital ‘A’ Airman. I want to
rejuvenate that pride.”
Pulling students out of their
comfort zones and pushing them into leadership positions is the
first coming-of-age experience for Airmen. Airmen Leadership School
cadre at use the opportunity to not only educate students, but to
instill a new outlook on the force.
“The first week, you can
see that the students are hesitant to be here,” said Lafay. “The
last week, you can just see a new sense of pride in them. Seeing the
change and watching them go out and do good in their units is one of
the most fulfilling things I’ve experienced in my career.”
HoHowever, a recent class of Kish students were not the only ones to
be reminded of their Air Force heritage after family members of
Medal of Honor recipient, U.S. Air Force Sgt. John Levitow, visited
the joint base in August 2017.
John vitow Jr., his cousin, Tara
Bufis and her husband James attended an Airman Leadership School
graduation ceremony to witness the presentation of The John Levitow
Award; the highest honor presented to enlisted professional military
Sgt. Levitow is best known for his acts
of heroism while serving on board a Douglas AC-47 Spooky gunship
during his time in Vietnam, but he’s also known for the work he did
with service members after his time in the Air Force.
“Everyone knows my dad for what happened on February 24, 1969, but
those ten minutes are not what defines my dad,” said Levitow Jr.
“What defines him is how he supported the enlisted troops after his
Traveling from base to base for speaking
engagements, Sgt. Levitow urged every service member to take pride
in themselves by investing in themselves.
“For someone who
had very little college to so heavily stress the importance of
education was a powerful message,” said Levitow Jr. “He truly
believed education was the key to success.”
Levitow Jr. was
the guest speaker during the recent graduation ceremony, and he
echoed the messages his father had originally spread.
[Levitow Jr.] spoke on graduation night, he was 110 percent in line
with what we teach here,” said Lafay. “The idea of servant
leadership, and caring for those that you lead.”
ALS school houses across the Air Force have set out in Sgt.
Levitow’s footsteps to spark not just a love of learning, but a
sense of pride.
There is a small population of people who
are eligible to serve in America’s armed forces and only one percent
choose to serve. It is even a smaller percentage of those who are
chosen to be NCOs.
“That’s when this job feels real to me,”
said Lafay. “When I can reenergize that pride.”
By U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lauren Russell
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