Wright-Pat Airman is NCOA top graduate

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mavi Smith
  • The I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center
A member of the 88th Surgical Operations Squadron at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio was presented the John L. Levitow award for her accomplishments at the Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Academy during the class graduation ceremony at the I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center here, June 2.

Tech. Sgt. Melanie D. Dufresne, the NCOIC of the ambulatory procedures unit, was the top graduate of 186 NCOs who attended Class 10-5.

The John L. Levitow award is the highest honor awarded a graduate of any Air Force enlisted professional military education course. Named for Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. John L. Levitow, it is presented to the one student who not only demonstrates academic excellence, but also the outstanding attributes of leadership, military bearing, and dedication to the mission and spirit of the total Air Force.

"You can't win something like this without others involved," said Dufresne of her win. "I just feel really honored and humbled that my instructor and my peers thought I was worthy of it."

"She is very deserving of this award," said Tech. Sgt. Darrell Crowe, Dufresne's NCO Academy flight instructor. "When it comes to everything we teach here, everything from leadership qualities to communication, she's it, the whole package. She sets the example for all of us to follow."

The NCO Academy is a six-week in-residence course that prepares technical sergeants to be professional, war-fighting Airmen who can manage and lead their units in the employment of air, space and cyberspace power. Students learn and study curriculum in the areas of the profession of arms, leadership and communication to build the skills they need for their current rank and to prepare for future responsibilities.

"I had a really, really good experience here," said Dufresne. "It was tough, the curriculum is hard...but I know I'm taking more back than I came here with...and that was my goal, to come here and learn."

The John L. Levitow award is named in honor of Sgt. John L. Levitow, one of only two Air Force enlisted men to receive the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.

Levitow received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on Feb. 24, 1969. Serving as a loadmaster on an AC-47 gunship over Long Binh, South Vietnam, his aircraft was severely damaged by mortar fire. Suffering from over 40 shrapnel wounds to his back and legs, he saw a smoking magnesium flare amid a pile of spilled ammunition canisters. Despite loss of blood and partial loss of feeling in his right leg, he threw himself on the flare, hugged it close, dragged himself to an open cargo door and hurled the flare out. Almost immediately, the flare ignited harmlessly. Levitow's actions saved the aircraft and the lives of seven crewmembers.