22 FSS sends ALS instructor to Pease

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Victoria Nelson
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The 22nd Force Support Squadron sent Staff Sgt. Austin Thoreen, an Airman Leadership School instructor, to Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire, to teach the ALS class there.

The 157th Air Refueling Wing hosted in-person ALS at Pease for the first time in over three decades.

“The location on the East Coast saves time and resources,” said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Cole, ALS commandant with the 22nd FSS. “We save 144,000 dollars by sending a single instructor to Pease instead of having 16 members from Pease travel to McConnell.”

“Offering this course at this TFI location also provides an opportunity for McConnell’s Airman Leadership School to extend its reach and experience in ways that very few schoolhouses have in the past,” he added. “It ensures that Airmen from diverse backgrounds and assignments have the opportunity to benefit from the program, fostering a more inclusive and comprehensive approach to leadership development.”

The graduating class 23-E1 consisted of 15 students from active duty and National Guard units from across New England including the 157th ARW, 64th Air Refueling Squadron, 158th Fighter Wing and the 104th Fighter Wing.

“One major benefit of hosting a Total Force class is the expanded wealth of knowledge, experience, and expertise the Airmen bring,” Thoreen said. “We have students who joined the Air Force as their first job, members who joined after having children and building families, and members who served in other branches of the military.”

The five-week course covered Air Force culture, big picture mission, leadership and problem solving. The final goal of the school is to help cultivate leadership attributes in members as they develop as agile and resilient supervisors.

“We ask students to consider how they, within their individual roles, impact the larger missions of the Air Force,” said Thoreen. “Along with understanding the importance of our contending adversaries and what the Air Force, Space Force, and the Joint Force are doing to remain competitive.”

“We also expand on how important collaboration and connection are to leading and being a part of a successful organization,” he added. “Especially at the tactical level.”

Throughout the class, students are asked to understand critical thinking concepts that require them to strategize and solve tactical problems both in the work center and across the enterprise. The Airmen demonstrate understanding through guided discussions, in-class exercises, and performance tasks incorporating the lesson concepts and principles.

Senior Airman Reid Carter, a crew chief with the 64th Air Refueling Squadron and a graduate with class 23-E1, said the greatest takeaways were the networking and in-class discussions.

“I’m a maintainer so hearing from people in logistics or training gave me a cool perspective on how even though we’re all in the Air Force we go about things in a completely different way,” he said.

“I think there are a ton of takeaways from being in person,” he added. “It opens your eyes to different mindsets and different approaches to leadership.”

This is the first time Pease has hosted an in-person ALS course since the active duty wing left in 1989.

To commemorate the special occasion, the Wing hosted John Levitow Jr., son of deceased Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. John Levitow, as the graduation speaker. Levitow challenged the class to constantly immerse themselves in education.

“Keep educating yourself,” he said. “Take bits and pieces from everything you learn and develop a leadership style that works for you.”

During the graduation, he presented Staff Sgt. Skyler Bateman, a maintainer with the 64th Air Refueling Squadron, with the John Levitow Award, the highest honor presented to a graduate of Air Force Enlisted professional military education. Eligibility for the award is reserved for graduates who rank in the top 1% of their class. Levitow was the first enlisted member of the U.S. Air Force to receive the Medal of Honor and an advocate for lifelong learning.

“My dad is known for ten minutes in Vietnam, but those moments are not what define him,” Levitow said. “The medal is not his legacy, I believe his legacy is what he did with it.”

“If you win an award, if you get your 10 minutes,” he said looking at each future leader of class 23-E1. “It’s what you do afterwards that defines you.”

Following graduation, the Air Force’s newest leaders bring their experience back to their home units with open minds and wider perspectives.

“I’ve learned that nobody expects you to be perfect, especially the Air Force when you depart this 5-week course,” said Thoreen. “But having a willingness to jump into the roles that the Air Force bestows upon its youngest leaders can make a world of difference for not only the service but for the nation.”