Future enlisted leaders complete PME milestone

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Twelve junior enlisted service members completed five weeks of professional military education that culminated in an Airman Leadership School graduation ceremony at the Minuteman Commons July 14.

By completing the course, the graduates are now qualified to supervise junior members in their respective organizations, according to school officials.

Hanscom’s ALS class generally includes six active duty Airmen, two Airmen from the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and the U.S. Coast Guard.

“Throughout the five week course, students get a real understanding of how each service contributes to the mission,” said Master Sgt. Ryan Dillingham, the commandant for ALS. “It is eye-opening for most students to learn how sister services function, as well as build from the diversity and experiences they share. It allows students to see leadership concepts through a different lens.”

Selected to be the guest speaker during the graduation ceremony was Senior Master Sgt. Jessica McWain, who spoke about her experience with meeting with the students after accepting the invitation to speak at the ceremony.

“The students we are here to celebrate have already developed an intense commitment to excellence, fueled by life and career experiences,” said McWain, the superintendent of the 66th Security Forces Squadron, who graduated from ALS in 2004 at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.

McWain challenged each graduate to stay committed, despite circumstance.

“Commitment can be drained by life circumstances: a mission you struggle to relate to, leaders who disappoint you, family struggles, losses, sacrifices, injuries, disciplinary actions and combat stress,” McWain said. “If you allow temporary circumstances to drain your commitment, you weaken.”

She closed by issuing a challenge to the 12 soon-to-be supervisors.

“None of us serve alone, but through honoring our individual defining moments, and making ourselves better, we strengthen ourselves and our brothers and sisters in arms,” she said. “As you integrate back into your unit and progress in your service, let your defining moments fuel your commitment, so you can act as an anchor for those around you, unyielding to the pressures of life circumstances and your environment.”
Following her speech, instructors recognized top performing students from the class.

Senior Airman Aaron J. Pilcher, a member of the 180th Maintenance Squadron at Toledo Air National Guard Base in Ohio, won the John L. Levitow Award. The award goes to the student who achieves the highest overall standing from a combination of academic scores, performance evaluation and leadership qualities. It's the highest honor awarded to an enlisted PME student.

The Academic Achievement Award recipient was Petty Officer 3rd Class Jack P. Gochenour, assigned to Sector Northern New England in Maine. This award goes to the top student who achieves the highest summative scores throughout the class and who displays all characteristics of an effective leader. They also must have fostered teamwork within the training environment.

Gochenour also received the Dress and Appearance Award during the event.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek E. Berkley, assigned to Sector Boston, is the Commandant Award recipient. This award goes to the student who displays all the characteristics of an effective leader. Once all other factors are weighed, the ALS commandant renders the final judgment on who receives this award.

Other students that completed the course include:

Senior Airman Joshua R. Aanderud, 459th Security Forces Squadron, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland

Senior Airman James Bond, 23rd Space Operations Squadron, New Boston Air Force Station, New Hampshire

Senior Airman Nicole M. Briggs, 910th Medical Squadron, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio

Senior Airman Amber D. Clayton, 66th Medical Squadron, Hanscom Air Force Base

Senior Airman Jamere D. Dotson, 66th Security Forces Squadron, Hanscom Air Force Base

Senior Airman Elijah A. Jackson, 66th Medical Squadron, Hanscom Air Force Base

Senior Airman Peter T. Kirchner, 64th Air Refueling Squadron, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H.

Senior Airman Clifford T. Robertson, II, 66th Force Support Squadron, Hanscom Air Force Base

Senior Airman Shemrom R. Ross, 104th Force Support Squadron, Westfield Air National Guard Base, Mass.

Each graduate earned the U.S. Air Force NCO PME graduation ribbon.