(function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://' : 'http://') + 'stats.g.doubleclick.net/dc.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();

Leadership graduates depart banquet to lead Air Force

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Staff Sgt. Jason Savary, 193rd Special Operations Maintenance Readiness Squadron, center, takes his diploma here May 18, 2016, as a distinguished graduate of the Airman leadership school, as well as recipient of the John L. Levitow award, class 16-5, during the graduation banquet at the Chief Master Sgt. Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center. He is joined on stage by 12th Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Eric W. Benken, retired, and Chief Master Sgt. Edward L. Walden Sr., right, Lankford Center commandant. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Staff Sgt. Jason Savary, 193rd Special Operations Maintenance Readiness Squadron, center, takes his diploma here May 18, 2016, as a distinguished graduate of the Airman leadership school, as well as recipient of the John L. Levitow award, class 16-5, during the graduation banquet at the Chief Master Sgt. Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center. He is joined on stage by 12th Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Eric W. Benken, retired, and Chief Master Sgt. Edward L. Walden Sr., right, Lankford Center commandant. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Airmen in the B-Flight, take the honor flight award here, May 18, 2016, for the Airman leadership school, class 16-5, during the graduation banquet at the Chief Master Sgt. Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Airmen in the B-Flight, take the honor flight award here, May 18, 2016, for the Airman leadership school, class 16-5, during the graduation banquet at the Chief Master Sgt. Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- Ninety-one graduates of the U.S. Air Force Airman Leadership School attended their graduation banquet May 19 and carried home their diplomas that evening, along with words of encouragement from the 12th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. 

What they did here at the Chief Master Sergeant Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center contributed to the Air Force and the local community, said officials.

"Be very proud of who you are, be very proud of what you do," said the 12th Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Eric W. Benken, retired.   

Chief Master Sgt. Edward L. Walden Sr., Lankford Center commandant, introduced Benken, who then congratulated the students and spoke of the choices made to serve a career in the Air Force and of those who would steer them toward continued service.

"This is going to happen to you, this is a legacy that you are going to build," Benken advised. "All of us that have any rank at all here today stand on the shoulders of great people ... those who have helped us out ... have given us a bit of advice and helped us build that foundation that makes us better."

During the four-week school, the students discussed course materials as well as endured presentations, inspections, tests, and physical fitness training, among many other challenges.

"You've accomplished much," said Col. Kevin Donovan, commander of the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. "I'm sure that you have grown, and as a result, you received a world-class education in leadership and followership."

Donovan thanked the class for serving more than 110 hours of community work, including volunteering at the local food pantry and at the Blount Country Animal Shelter.

Officials alike challenged the Airmen to apply what they learned back at their units.