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 their subordinates.
But 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 education graduates.
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 service.”
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.
“When [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.”
Cadre at 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
Provided through DVIDS
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