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Laughlin Airmen steal the show at ALS

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MARCOA Media
Story by A1C Anne McCready on 08/05/2019
Six Laughlin Airmen out of a class of 13 graduated Airman Leadership School at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, completed the course (date) and finished above standard.

Senior Airman Hernan Sandoval, 47th Civil Engineer Squadron engineering technician; Senior Airman Gary Spillane, 47th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist; Senior Airman Jamie-Lynn Novicio, 47th Force Support Squadron customer support section lead; Senior Airman Paige Koopman, 47th Operations Support Squadron tower air traffic controller; Senior Airman Dakota Farrow and Senior Airman James Shanahan, 47th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler and security forces trainer, all represented Laughlin through participation in the course.

But Team XL's Airmen did more than participatethey went an extra mile, some earning the academic award, commandant award, and John L. Levitow Award, respectively.

Proud of his Airmen, Chief Ronald Harper, 47th Mission Support Group superintendent, believes Team Laughlin is about more than even earning awardsthey were focused on graduating together.

"I could tell this class was close, and they got through the course as a team," Harper observed. "Even though individuals earned the awards, the Laughlin Airmen seemed to place more value on succeeding as a team."

The transition from Airman to NCO can be a drastic change. Harper recalled his supervisor telling him as a senior airman that he had a line number for staff, he would be attending ALS, and he would have three Airmen under his supervision upon his return.

"The one thing I learned early on was that it's not about me anymore, it's about the team and the Airmen under my supervision," Harper said.

2nd Lt. Jessica Raab, 47th Force Support Squadron officer in charge of food operations and former ALS instructor, compares ALS to Basic Military Training because it teaches the basics of being an NCO like BMT teaches the basics of being an Airman.

"ALS is the foundational school that teaches a senior airman how to become a supervisor and, it teaches them how to go from participating in their unit to leading."

Raab said ALS also teaches Airmen how to deal with different scenarios they could come across such as disciplining and awarding followers.

"NCO's are the backbone of the Air Force, and they're the technical expert," Raab said. "ALS won't necessarily give answers to those questions, but it will give the tools to finding those answers. The course can teach how to react to situations whether they're proactive or reactive because we can't predict human behavior as supervisors."

Furthering themselves as Airmen and professionals, Laughlin's ALS graduates completed their course at Goodfellow and bring back the training they received to pass on to their team here. Harper firmly believes no one person and no one unit can accomplish the base's mission of graduating world's best multi-domain aviators alone, and that the recent ALS class represents the teamwork so necessary to a successful mission.

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