Lankford Center pays tribute to enlisted heroes

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mavi Smith
  • The I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center
The Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center recognized enlisted heroes when they dedicated 17 of their classrooms to the contributions and sacrifices of enlisted service members in a ceremony held at Morrisey Hall, March 22.

Team leaders for EPME's Airman Leadership School and NCO Academy organized the dedications as a way to both inspire their students and preserve the rich heritage, tradition and professionalism of the enlisted corps.

"We talk Air Force enlisted heritage in the NCO Academy, and the enlisted perspective in ALS," said Master Sgt. Glen Weaver, a senior instructor and the superintendent for Airman Leadership School. "This was a way to go back to our reminds you why you are here."

Each classroom was named for either an enlisted Medal of Honor recipient or an enlisted first, such as NCO Academy D-flight honoree, retired Air Force Capt. William A. Robinson. Robinson, who was an airman 1st class at the time, holds the distinction of being the first enlisted prisoner of war of the Vietnam War.

On Sept. 20, 1965, Robinson was an aircrew member on a rescue mission in North Vietnam when his HH-43B helicopter was shot down and he was taken prisoner.

Robinson has shared his story of surviving more than seven years in captivity with the students of the Lankford Center for many years.

Today, he was humbled to learn that he symbolized the dedication of all of the center's classrooms to enlisted heroes.

In a ceremony attended by more than 200 service members, the students of NCO Academy D-flight unveiled a flag stand for their classroom, the new "Robinson Room," in his honor.

"You are an inspiration to us all and your story is an absolute example of our Air Force's core values," said Tech. Sgt. Agustin S. Pascual, an avionics production supervisor at Shaw AFB, S.C., on behalf of D-flight.

"It is an honor to accept this," said Robinson. "I am overwhelmed to think that you thought what I had done was honorable."

An additional 16 classrooms have also been dedicated. A flag stand has been donated by each flight of class 11-3 of the NCO Academy and Airman Leadership School. Each will hold the occupational badge, unit coin and name of each student in that flight and serve as their legacy to the Lankford Center.

The Morrisey Hall classroom dedications to enlisted heroes are:

Airman Leadership School:
A-Flight, Room 201, Air Force Airman 1st Class John L. Levitow, Medal of Honor recipient
B-Flight, Room 202, Marine Corps Corporal Jason L. Dunham, Medal of Honor recipient
C-Flight, Room 205, Air Force Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham, killed in action during the Battle of Takur Ghar, Operation Anaconda, Afghanistan
D-Flight, Room 208, Air Force Airman 1st Class Elizabeth N. Jacobson, first enlisted female killed in the line of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the first Security Forces member killed in conflict since the Vietnam War.
E-Flight, Room 207, Army Cpl. Vernon L. Burge, first Enlisted Pilot

NCO Academy:
A-flight, Room 101, Air Force Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger, Medal of Honor recipient
B-Flight, Room 102, Army Cpl. Frank S. Scott, first enlisted member to have an Air Force base named after him
C-Flight, Room 105, Air Force Master Sgt. Henry E. Erwin, Medal of Honor recipient
D-Flight, Room 108, Air Force Airman 1st Class William Robinson, first enlisted prisoner of war in the Vietnam War
E-Flight, Room 107, Air Force Staff Sgt. Esther M. Blake, first Air Force enlisted female
F-Flight, Room 110, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Leslie D. Williams, first graduate of the Paul H. Lankford EPME Center to die supporting a military conflict. Williams attended NCO Academy Class 10-4 and died at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom
G-Flight, Room 113, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, Medal of Honor recipient
H-Flight, Room 115, Air Force Staff Sgt. Scott B. Sather, first Airman killed in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom
I-Flight, Room 219, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Forrest L. Vosler, Medal of Honor recipient
J-flight, Room 216, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Paul W. Airey, first Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
K-Flight, Room 215, Air Force Staff Sgt. Maynard H. Smith, Medal of Honor recipient
L-Flight, Room 213, Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Guinta, first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War
M-Flight, Room 211, French Army Cpl. Eugene Bullard, first African American Enlisted Pilot
N-Flight, Room 209, U.S. Coast Guard Signalman 1st Class Douglas A. Munro, the first and only U.S. Coast Guard Medal of Honor recipient
O-Flight, Room 210, U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Archibald Mathies, Medal of Honor recipient