An Airman's feat of learning mastered with excellence

  • Published
  • By First Sergeant Master Sgt. Rusty White
  • 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Delaware Air National Guard
For five weeks from July and into August, a senior Airman in the Delaware Air National Guard stepped outside his comfort zone and attended Airman Leadership School in-residence at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Senior Airman Andrew Merrylees, a radio frequency technician and a traditional member of the 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Delaware ANG, based at the New Castle ANG Base, Del., could have easily settled for the ALS correspondence course, but instead decided to address the challenge of attending this first level of enlisted professional military education in-residence.

Whether he knows it or not (something tells me he does), his face-to-face attendance in this development course significantly strengthened his ability to lead and manage while enabling a broader understanding of the military profession.

As many of you know, these are not courses where graduations are handed out; they are earned through hard work and long days. The ALS curriculum consists of 192 hours over 24 academic days, and involves the instructional areas of warfare, leadership, international security, and communication studies, the very biggest part of it being focused on leadership and communication.

Simply stated, this course prepares senior Airmen for the increased responsibilities our Air Force demands, which is absolutely critical as we shape what we will look like tomorrow.

But attendance isn't where it ended.

Of the 27 students in the class, there was but one -- Airman Merrylees - that wasn't an active duty component member. He tells me in good fun they razzed him a bit at first, however eventually it became transparent. I believe that regardless of stereotypes, his classmates soon realized they were in the presence of a professional.

As a matter of fact, on August 16 they all witnessed their Air National Guard classmate walk across the stage and receive his Distinguished Graduate award. This, my friends, is one of our very own Airmen, leading our Total Force!