Holloman AFB member is top graduate at NCO Academy

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mavi Smith
  • The I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center
A member of the 49th Medical Operations Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., 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, Sept. 30.

Tech. Sgt. Jennifer M. Pahl, the NCOIC of the military health flight, was the top graduate of the 62 servicemembers who attended Class 09-6.

The John L. Levitow Award is the highest honor awarded a graduate of any Air Force enlisted professional military education course. It is named for Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. John L. Levitow for his actions during the Vietnam War. It is presented to the one student who not only demonstrates academic excellence, but also the outstanding attributes of leadership, enthusiasm, military bearing, and dedication to the spirit and mission of the total Air Force. It is based on objective testing, performance evaluations, demonstrated leadership, and student and instructor points.

"It's very exciting to receive this award," said Pahl, who was also the E-Flight leader of the class. "I feel really humbled by winning."

"She's a superstar," said Tech. Sgt. A. Ramey Stokes, the E-Flight instructor. "From day one, she was open, caring and honest. She wanted the flight to be the best it could be and I really think that came through in her actions."

"A lot of the Levitow award deals with peer points," said Stokes. "She got peer points from everyone in the class and that's a big deal. Most of the time the vote is split but she unanimously got the points from the class."

The NCO Academy is a six-week in-residence course. It 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.

"Coming here was a very rewarding experience," said Pahl. "The school is great and the instructors and staff are really helpful. They really want everybody to have a good understanding of what it takes to be a combat leader and a unit manager."

"PME is a challenge," added Pahl. "You have to commit yourself to your studies and take time away from your family but I feel it's no longer about us anymore...it's about our airmen and what we do for them."

The 62 servicemembers who attended NCO Academy Class 09-6 came from 25 different states and included 41 Air National Guard members, 13 Air Force members, 4 Air Force Reserve members, and 5 Coast Guard members.

"There are many different ways to serve," said Col. Richard B. Howard, commander of the Training and Education Center, during the ceremony. "We have amongst us tonight active duty, reservists, and coast guard. To have an Air Force winner of the John Levitow award here at the Air National Guard academy shows that we are truly partner, part and parcel, altogether total force. Congratulations, Sergeant Pahl."

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.

The I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center is located at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base near Knoxville, Tenn. Known as the TEC, it conducts an average of 18 professional military education courses throughout the year and holds more than 40 skills enhancement classes in subjects ranging from explosives safety orientation to food services, recruiting, security and expeditionary medical support. The center trains and educates more than 4,200 students per year and is the heart of leadership training for the Air National Guard.