HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – John Levitow Jr., son of deceased Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. John Levitow, visited the Airman Leadership School here to discuss his father’s legacy with students Jan. 31.
Sgt. Levitow received the Medal of Honor for his acts of heroism while serving on board a Douglas AC-47 Spooky gunship during the Vietnam War.
However, his son believes his work after his time in the Air Force deserves the recognition.
“The medal is not his legacy,” said Levitow. “I believe his legacy is what he did with it.”
Levitow spoke candidly with students of Class 20C about his relationship with his dad. He broke what he believed his legacy was into four main pillars: education, humility, service before self, and “living beyond the 10 minutes.”
Levitow Jr. stated that his father truly believed education was the key to success
“You need to keep educating yourself,” he said. “Take bits and pieces from everything you learn and develop a leadership style that works for you.”
Former Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Sam Parish established the John L. Levitow Award as a nod to Levitow’s passion for educating the enlisted force. The award goes to the ALS student who demonstrates the most outstanding leadership and academic achievement throughout the course.
The second Air Force core value, service before self, was a mantra heard often in his childhood home, said Levitow. He remembers his father stating that his action was just a result of his training and that he truly believed in the mission before himself.
“It’s all a balancing act,” he said. “You can put so much into your career but you need balance and you need a support system.”
Finally, Levitow discussed the idea of “living beyond your ten minutes.”
“My dad is known for ten minutes in Vietnam, but those moments are not what define him,” he said.
After leaving the Air Force, the elder Levitow traveled from base to base for speaking engagements where he urged Airmen to take pride in investing in themselves and worked as an advocate for veterans” education and benefits.
“Really, I believe his legacy is this,” he said. “If you win an award, it’s what you do afterwards that defines you.”