Blended-Learning Airmen march toward holiday accomplishment

LOUISVILLE, Tenn. — Senior Airmen in the Airman leadership school blended learning class 18-1 were having fun outdoors, Dec. 1, 2017, during their two weeks of hands-on learning in East Tennessee.

Marching a flight may not have been easy, but there was plenty of camaraderie and encouragement. The Airmen arrived on campus after five weeks of facilitated learning at their home units.

The Chief Master Sergeant Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center is where Air National Guard Airmen go for the combined distance learning and resident course. Their small class of less than two dozen students is the only EPME on campus this month, so they are also the last students scheduled to graduate this year.

About 2,000 Airmen from the regular Air Force, the Air National Guard, and the  Air Force Reserve Command, as well as the Coast Guard and foreign militaries, attend NCO academy and ALS each year at the center. It is the Air Force’s largest and longest running EPME, founded in 1968.

Old Glory raised, then lowered

If you visited the Air National Guard’s training center here in East Tennessee this week coming from any other U.S. active duty, National Guard or Reserve military installation, there would be one thing that you would notice the same – the American flag at half-staff.

The President and the governors can order the flag flown half-staff through the U.S. Flag Code in memorialization. This time, flags were raised to their peak, then lowered to halfway in honor of those victims of murder and assault in Las Vegas.

“Our Nation is heartbroken,” proclaimed President Donald Trump, in his notice for the American flag to fly half-staff, Oct. 2 to Oct. 6. Meaning, a week of reflection before the Columbus Day weekend. “As we grieve, we pray that God may provide comfort and relief to all those suffering.”

These past years, I’d instead not recall how often I’ve walked across the base in the morning to see “Old Glory” flying below its peak to honor Americans under tragic events. It’s too often.
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Air Guard remains top community advocate

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. – It would not be out of the ordinary for someone in the East Tennessee Smoky Mountains region to know of a U.S. Air Force Airman.

That’s partly due to the community volunteerism generated here during last fiscal year through students at the Air National Guard’s I.G. Brown Training and Education Center.

“The student’s daily schedule is packed full of academic requirements, so their dedication to service truly shows in their support to the local community while balancing the rigors of coursework,” said Chief Master Sgt. Winfield Hinkley, the commandant.

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Cargo flight to Saint Croix – enlisted leader, spouse find new assignment

Sassy, a Yorkshire Terrier, awaits a flight out of Savannah Air National Guard Base to St. Croix, Sept. 24, 2017, along with three other pets. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith) 

SAVANNAH AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ga. – The National Guard hit the ground running this week to bring disaster response to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but getting off to a quick start is an understatement for Batina “Blue” Wesson and her husband, Army Sgt. Maj. Derwin Wesson.

Sergeant Major Wesson is the incoming U.S. Virgin Islands National Guard Command Sergeant Major. Hurricane Maria hit before he could arrive to take the position as the senior noncommissioned officer for all enlisted Soldiers.

“We’re going in with boots on the ground and get in,” said Blue.

She sat outside the door of an Air National Guard airlift hub and contingency processing center Sept. 24 at Savannah Air National Guard Base in Georgia. The sergeant major checked on their flight to Saint Croix. Accompanying her were their pets, Zoo, a Bengal cat, as well as three dogs – Sassy and Pinky Winky – both Yorkshire Terriers – and Mr. Biggie – a Miniature Pinscher.

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Flag’s up for Airman Leadership School

Staff Sgt. Mary Pelletier led the morning reveille today, August 22, for Airman Leadership School, Class 17-9, at the Chief Master Sergeant Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in East Tennessee. One hundred and eighteen fellow students backed her up, as well as the commander, commandant, instructors, and staff.

“SQUADRON, ATTEN HUT!” said Pelletier, calling the formation to attention before the raising of the flag.

It is a recurring Tuesday ceremony when EPME classes are in session. The formation also recites The Airman’s Creed.

EPME students in ALS and NCO academy begin leading reveille and retreat after some practice sessions.

Sergeant Pelletier and the others in ALS are at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center campus for the five-week school, which prepares them to serve as front-line supervisors.

The campus is the U.S. Air Force’s largest and longest continuously running EPME center, which began NCO academy classes during the summer of 1968.

Anchoring an officer commissioning program’s memory

Stored for nearly three years, the relocation of the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center’s Drosendahl Memorial this month to the running track provides a weathered reminder of the Air National Guard’s Academy of Military Science officer commissioning program that’s no longer on campus.

Without this gray granite stone, without the seven inscribed AMS graduate names of those alumni who died serving the nation, without some other traces, only a few staff would recall TEC once having officer candidates, said the Deputy Commander, Lt. Col. David Meece.

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Faculty’s formation

Faculty and staff assigned to the Air National Guard’s I.G. Brown Training and Education Center in East Tennessee formed ranks during a retreat ceremony with others at the Class 17-4 NCO Academy graduation May 16, 2017.

Military retreat ceremonies pay respect to the Flag when it is lowered at the end of a duty day and can include group formation, bugle call, salute and flag folding, among other traditions. TEC service members recite the Airman’s Creed at the end of their flag ceremonies.

TEC includes the Air Force’s largest enlisted professional military education center, which educates thousands of active duty, National Guard, Reserve Command and international students every year.