Air Guard’s Lankford EPME Center graded HIGHLY EFFECTIVE in Program Management

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. – The Air National Guard’s primary campus for training and education in East Tennessee recently achieved the highest grade awarded after a U.S. Air Force review of its enlisted education for total force Airmen.

The Chief Master Sergeant Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center, a division within the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center, earned HIGHLY EFFECTIVE by the U.S. Air Force’s Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education in a Program Management Review.

“COVID-19 can’t stop the passion and energy of Team TEC!” said U.S. Air Force Col. Kenneth Lozano, the commander, in an email to faculty and staff.

Continue reading “Air Guard’s Lankford EPME Center graded HIGHLY EFFECTIVE in Program Management”

Commentary: Managing the ‘JMHOs’

There are times when personal opinion is valuable, and there are moments when it’s inappropriate. This balance with subjectivity stresses the importance of transparency in our media.

If we live in a world where everyone reports something, professionals have a particular onus to source it. The cold, hard fact is that cold, hard facts and personal beliefs are equally viable when adequately identified.

Continue reading “Commentary: Managing the ‘JMHOs’”

EPME Center graduates hundreds through virtual classes, ceremony

FRIENDSVILLE, Tenn. – More than 10,000 watched the virtual graduation ceremony of U.S. Air Force Airmen enrolled in virtual in-residence, remote NCO Academy and Airman Leadership School, broadcast live July 13, to the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center’s Facebook account.

Family, friends, and coworkers used the moment to directly share the Livestream at least 30 times, “like” it more than 100 times, and submit more than 150 positive comments of support and congratulations. A recording is at https://lnkd.in/ejhp_Rv.

“Congratulations to all today’s graduates.” and “You are the future of the Air Force. Aim High!” and “Yeahhh my baby girl!” and “We are so proud of you.” were among the prevailing sentiments.

Continue reading “EPME Center graduates hundreds through virtual classes, ceremony”

USAF Air Combat Command selects TEC for future cyber-training mission

U.S. Air Force Combat Command selected the Air National Guard’s training and education center on McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in East Tennessee for training Airmen to protect and defend the nation’s most advanced computerized weapon systems.

The I.G. Brown Training and Education Center is part of a recent and extensive, multi-unit effort to increase Air Combat Command’s Mission Defense Team cyber training with the inclusion of the campus, located just outside Knoxville.

“This is an exciting moment for TEC and its future as an agile, innovative, and resilient center of learning for the total Air Force and the National Guard Bureau,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Kenneth Lozano, TEC commander. “We are expanding and growing at zero cost. This initiative is the result of a strategy to diversify TEC’s role today and into the future.”

Continue reading “USAF Air Combat Command selects TEC for future cyber-training mission”

FAQs for virtual in-resident remote NCO Academy and Airman leadership school

FRIENDSVILLE, Tenn. – With so many things impacted by COVID-19, the U.S. Air Force response included a suspended NCO academy and Airman leadership school for Airmen. Both courses are requirements for promotion to NCO and senior NCO, as well as provide essential knowledge for aspiring leaders.

Here’s the good news: they are available remotely now through virtual in-resident remote enlisted professional military education.

Continue reading “FAQs for virtual in-resident remote NCO Academy and Airman leadership school”

Education center staff and faculty push their development, despite adversity

FRIENDSVILLE, Tenn. – U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the Air National Guard’s training and education center in East Tennessee did not stop their own personal and professional growth in the face of teleworking.

Leaders noted how the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center’s 80-plus staff and faculty enrolled in online learning. More than 30 Airmen joined recently in a 20-hour course entitled, “leadership engagement, increase communication and trust,” which included individual coaching sessions.

Continue reading “Education center staff and faculty push their development, despite adversity”

USAF instructors prove their agility with classroom-to-camera skills

LOUISVILLE, Tenn. — U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Megan Francolini and Tech. Sgt. Renee Wiederspahn recorded sessions in the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center TV studio, June 4, on McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in East Tennessee, during camera-work for virtual in-residence remote NCO academy for the total U.S. Air Force.

Their efforts are among just a few weeks’ worths of turnaround by TEC’s Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center – the Air Force’s largest EPME center – as it kicks off VIR-R NCO Academy as well as VIR-R Airman leadership school mid-month.

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Steven Durrance, the EPME center commandant, said in March that his team was focused on preparations to instruct a new curriculum as well as alternative learning methods.

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Instructors learned television-studio camera skills from broadcasting experts, including reading from a teleprompter, to record their curriculum. TEC operates the Air National Guard’s broadcast center and Warrior Network television studios.

“This was an extremely quick turn for Lankford; especially considering the circumstances,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Beiting, NCO academy superintendent. “It really has been a massive effort with a lot of challenges.”

The Air National Guard’s Lankford Center is a total force institution and graduates thousands of students annually. The 38 faculty include 19 enlisted Airmen from the regular Air Force, 18 from the National Guard, and one from the Reserve Command, as well as three support staff. They focused on coursework revisions and transformations from home since the worldwide pandemic suspended classes on campus.

More than 250 EPME students will connect from their homes across the nation beginning June 15.

Airmen interested in these courses should speak with their assigned education managers concerning VIR-R EPME opportunities.

Every dog has its day

Every dog has its day
a short story

Rob Bartell spent sessions with his therapist discussing methods to channel his anger. Now he focused on cranking the window down in his cheap rental. The cool air refreshed him. The folded American flag and medal they tossed him at the capital were in a backpack on the passenger seat. He still felt the governor’s handshake, which tried to match his.

[You were there, Bro.]

He could not recall what the governor said, but instead remembered that the man looked up at him. Bartell stood a stocky six-foot-seven. His Army recruiter told him that he represented the poster boy for the Lynyrd Skynyrd song that went, “lean and mean, and big and bad, Lord.

He sat cramped in the little car and breathed consciously, slowly, in and out. “Suck it,” he whispered on exhale. Parked, with his head on the wheel, his hands remained unaltered from the mad grip that connected skill and anger in road rage.

He drove here daydreaming when something bounced off the windshield. Left, he saw a man hollering,  gesturing and trying to pull alongside in a silver truck. Bartell veered to block the man’s next approach as he’d done in convoys. The truck, forced toward the ditch, pulled behind to avoid the busy oncoming traffic. The man did not relent, and he tried to match Bartell at a faster speed. Bartell braked hard and fell behind to steer into the pickup’s rear bumper. The driver tried to correct but lost traction. The car nearly flipped, fishtailed, and stalled. He sped on.

Bartell’s mood lifted from that fog. He looked around the empty parking lot and expected to see a pickup roaring toward him. A one-lane road offered the only entrance to the riverside park. The battle ended.

[I will waste you.]  Inhale, exhale, inhale.

IMG_0828Dead leaves scattered. Surrounding fields of big river grass yellowed and bent. The park looked void of seasonal boaters who wintered out until Memorial Day. A plastic porta-potty door rocked on one hinge toward a stack of boat docks and picnic tables. Tractor tracks crossed the grass. A bike trail intersected the road beyond. He drove here after the ceremony. It suited him well as a running sanctuary since his homecoming – the fourth deployment after the attacks. He wanted to be alone.

SLAM! The porta-potty’s door lashed to a gust. He flinched. His ghosts rustled as he got out and stretched. He zeroed the chronometer on his watch. He tightened his leg strap and observed the muddy Mohawk waters flow slowly toward the Hudson. The historical marker pointed out where workers camped the river bank two centuries ago as they dug the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo.

“I’ve got a mule, her name is Sal,” Bartell mumbled half-heartedly. [Fif-teen miles on the Er-ie Ca-nal.]

A static ran through his head while he checked the car’s front bumper for scratches — a small ding in the plastic cover meant nothing too noticeable. He felt like kicking it in. But he regained himself and thought of mules pulling barges. He thought of ditch diggers with bent backs, their clothes muddy, and shovels of heavy mud. They were resilient, many immigrants, who helped invent modern excavation. The newspapers praised their progress but called their effort worthless. “Clinton’s Ditch,” his father recalled. “The project seemed unfathomable, like men on the moon.”

The street remained void as he ran. He jogged slow, warming up passed stubbed fields of clipped corn stalks that hid scattered deer runs and irrigation pipe. Where the area stopped, he turned right with his breath rapid, onto a crushed-stone bike trail that stretched past a farmhouse and a crooked cow-barn. His feet crunched the cadence. His breath adjusted quicker. He saw a battered, thick-wheeled tractor parked like an odd ornament, out of gas, or maybe under repair. The November air warmed from the bright sunlight; nevertheless, he saw no others. The trail continued 12 miles to the Town of Pallentine. Half paved. The gravel half Bartell favored for his carbon-fiber foot. He also liked the serenity of the forgotten canal nearby. “I can run up to town,” he thought, overzealous. “Then up the highway, maybe to Utica. When would I stop?”

It felt difficult to find that sweet spot, he told his therapist, because his throttle sometimes stuck at high or low, with no cruise. The feelings were too strong, and he failed to see the things now beyond. They prescribed him medications, “for a while.” Their effect in the last two weeks seemed noticeable. He did not feel so battered.

[We’ve hauled some bar-ges in our day
Filled with lum-ber, coal, and hay
And ev-ery inch of-the-way I know
From Al-ban-y to Buff-a-lo.]

IMG_0892Overgrown, the abandoned canal stretched west and paralleled the path, the main road, and the river. Oak and maple trees now filled its low areas where diverted water once floated cargo and people west across the state. His father said that when the railroads came the mule-powered barges were no match for steam engines. Then the thruway.

Bartell’s father considered himself a canal historian. He brought him and his brother once to find an unknown, abandoned lock hidden in the woods. He said he snowshoed to it during a winter storm, as a kid, and whistled on an acorn top for help after twisting his ankle. It’s sheer rock walls were collapsed and half-buried. His father retraced the steps. Bartell was seven, and his brother, John, was nine. Their mother just died, and so they hiked through the woods to cope with the loss. Bartell awed at the massive granite blocks that looked tumbled and turned over by gods rather than decades of river ice. Each block seemed as chiseled as those in a Roman cathedral. He thought to find that magical, rooted place now to keep a chunk of stone over his parent’s graves. Maybe that’s what brought him. He wished his father saw him at the capital. He wanted to recover sooner.

He passed between un-mowed edges of Queen Ann’s lace, purple burdock flowers, and milkweed. He knew the way, soon a low bridge over a creek, and then a long, level ditch.

[Filled with explosives, your boot came off in the muck. We’re trapped. Then that jackass turned back, and after him, to unscrew it. He needed a step, but it’s deep. Up to the hips deep, and it bit a leg off. A disappearing joke in the quicksand that the bullets boiled? No. You’re gone. Never coming back. My mangled meat will also outlast me. Horfreakinray. That’s my joke-a-day. Mine cauterized. Mud took it away.]

A silver truck crossed an intersection ahead of him, slowly. His eyes strained. If the driver approached him, he might hurt him. The medication would not help.

Its tires squealed. It sped on.

Bartell ran unknowingly toward the unmarked grave of Danny McCann, who Sheriff William Stillwell shot dead during the 1818 Canal Strike. The diggers walked off the job after a foreman tried to dry their camp. Thirty young men took out on a cold November night into Palatine. They busted up the town and stalked into the Spraker Inn on River Road. In a wild, drunken stupor, McCann snatched Stillwell’s drink from the bar and proclaimed that no one could stop a man from his right to drink. Stillwell, too old, with one seeing eye, left the room but returned shortly with his young deputy. He then leveled an old musket on the men and told them to get back to camp. McCann leaped toward the sheriff and the others moved over when he crashed to the floor, gunned down in a cloud of powder. The men got their whiskey but were no longer allowed into towns. There would be no trial. They shoveled McCann’s grave as they dug foggy-headed, up the Mohawk Valley toward Buffalo.

[“Shit. Get my leg!”]

Bartell’s team encountered stiff resistance sectors and elaborate minefields on his last patrol as they pressed into insurgent sanctuaries. There were many gunfights, and their efforts to clear the roads bogged them down. The patrols were slowed further by the deep mud and the irrigation ditches that crisscrossed their path. John said they reminded him of the canal, but Bartell realized that the canal back home did not require armor to plow for hidden bombs. They slogged their way forward slowly, through that morning muck when John died. They called for close air support with laser-guided weapons and strafed to flatten enemy positions. Then they came upon an impassable ditch filled with quicksand. Impossible. They inserted on Black Hawks to flank, with their position now under major attack. John thrived in those intense situations. It proved a prowess underestimated by many. “It’s gonna be a mud fight,” John said to him using a weak hillbilly impression. “We’ll crawl right into Clinton’s Ditch.” The orders were to wait, but insurgents targeted the team stuck and exposed down in a flooded, overgrown area. They agreed, they did not have long.

[“It’s an acorn top. You blow across it with your thumbs in a V-shape, and it’ll whistle. Here … you try.”]

What sounded like a sharp “yelp” brought his mind back to his run. Then an orange flash in the corner of his eye. Something flew through the air, into the canal and landed with a wet thud. The sound of breaking tires seemed last.

IMG_0389Bartell stood on the shoulder of the trail, trying to catch his breath. He looked down into a sunken area between the road and the bike path — nothing in focus.

“Bartell, that’s you,” asked a bellied, unshaven man across the way. He looked in his 40s and wore a dirty t-shirt and sweatpants. His hands looked filthy, and dirt marked his side like he crawled from a pit. “I heard you were with the governor. You got the Silver Star, right? You know, I was just messin’, why’ a go off like that?”

Bartell took a deep breath, made a tight fist, and crossed over to the road. The man smelled of cigarettes. He thought to confront him but he suddenly recalled John’s mechanic buddy, Griff. There existed in those personal effects a photo of them drinking at Spraker’s before training. John felt nervous then, which seemed funny since he thought up enlistment.

“My brother, you meant …

[… my brother.]

“It was his. Posthumous.”

“Shit, sorry.”

[A friend of mine once got her sore
Now he’s got a bro-ken jaw
‘Cause she let fly with an iron toe
And kicked him back to Buff-a-lo.]

The two looked down. Blood streaked across the weeds in a red flight path toward the canal for 50 feet. Further down, through the cattails and lying in a stagnant puddle, was a dog. The mechanic’s silver pickup with its trail of brake marks and plastic shards from its front grill shadowed over the grass with a piece of orange-red fur stuck in a shattered headlight. A smell of burnt rubber lingered.

In 1821 Orville McCann parked his wagon near the same spot after a desperate search for his son’s grave, but to no avail. He camped the night and set out toward St. Louis the following morning empty-handed. The man spent weeks on his hands and knees, in muddy fields and with no company to unearth the marker canal workers said they placed. What he did not know was that river ice buried the stone in the winter of 1819. His distant Missouri relatives still recall him saying “that it just wasn’t right, leaving his boy’s bones in that god-be-damned place.”

[Not my blood.]

“It’s an Irish Setter,” Bartell asked no one, unsure in its mangled state. The animal panted, from somewhere. He thought, “maybe a year old?”

Bartell read every news story, book, and magazine he got at Walter Reed to escape. They found him there on occasions in open debate with an empty recovery room, shouting at the by-lines and quotes with his monitor’s alarm tripped. Medics once found a raving madman in his place — Bartell checked out, just for a moment. Months of medical limbo, trying to move again, were maddening; after all, what did anyone know? They came one evening shortly before his move from intensive care to tell him about his father’s severe stroke. He died the day John’s personal effects arrived.

[“… a mud fight.”]

The man with the silver truck flicked a cigarette into the canal and then climbed down its embankment to examine at a closer distance. He hunched over it and folded his face as if he smelled something foul.

“Man’s best or not, they say these injured ones’ ill bite you, if you give ’em a chance.”

IMG_1161Bartell stood silent, now on the edge of the road. The air seemed lighter. He waited, trying to breathe. Steam rose from his heated body with a ghostly effect as passing clouds let in sporadic sunshine. Then a child’s scream from the other side pierced the air and broke the spell. A frantic girl ran toward him, down a driveway and to the road, with no regard. “Casey!” She screamed for the dog.

He thought, “I’m too far,” but this time, he vaulted a great deal using the spring of his prosthesis. Strong and swift, he catapulted the girl clear of traffic, then tumbled down into the ditch.

[On behalf of the State of New York and a grateful nation, I thank you for your brother’s ultimate sacrifice.]

Blurry eyed, he saw her sitting above him. She looked maybe nine. She transformed, calm, like an angel.

[I know, it wasn’t my fault.]

Bartell rolled onto his side. His breath knocked out of him. Then he noticed a battered old gravemarker half-buried in the weeds.

(Written by Mike R. Smith) (Song lyrics, Low Bridge, by Thomas Allen 1913)

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Virtual in-residence remote EPME scheduled for 251 Airmen

LOUISVILLE, Tenn. — U.S. Air Force professional military education instructors assigned to the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center in East Tennessee were wrapping up the final recordings for virtual in-residence remote NCO academy and Airman leadership school this week for the total U.S. Air Force.

TEC’s Lankford Enlisted PME Center began developing the inaugural VIR-R classes in March through telework and in the TEC-TV studios when classes suspended on campus due to COVID19.

More than 250 EPME students are scheduled to connect from their homes across the nation beginning June 15.

Airmen interested in these courses should speak with their assigned education managers concerning VIR-R EPME opportunities.

Longest-serving on TEC staff, Billie Laux, dies at 85

FRIENDSVILLE, Tenn. — Billie Laux, who provided decades of service and support to the Air National Guard training and education center, died Sunday, May 24, at 85.

Laux was hired in 1968 by the Director of the Air National Guard to serve as a civilian administrator at the ANG’s first NCO Academy. She was among its six initial instructors and staff, including a deputy commandant, U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Paul H. Lankford, and a commandant/commander U.S. Air Force Maj. Ed Morrisey. Continue reading “Longest-serving on TEC staff, Billie Laux, dies at 85”