News: Lankford’s heritage continues at Air Guard enlisted academies
Story by Master Sgt. Michael Smith
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Airmen should know and remember the founder of the Air National Guard’s center for enlisted leadership, said the top enlisted leader of the Paul H. Lankford Professional Military Education Center here Tuesday to its incoming class.
Chief Master Sgt. Paul H. Lankford was a survivor of the Bataan Death March in the Philippine Islands and in a Japanese prison camp for three years who went on to help stand up the Air National Guard’s premiere school for enlisted leadership.
“It’s from the heart and from my good friend and mentor that I’d like to welcome you to his school, where we try to carry on that same tradition,” said Chief Master Sgt. Donald E. Felch to 268 Air Force technical sergeants and international students.
The sergeants began Noncommissioned Officer Academy Feb. 26, in hopes of becoming senior enlisted airmen. The course is a requirement for their promotion to the rank of master sergeant.
Named after Lankford in December 2008, the Center delivers both NCOA and Airman Leadership School and is part of the Air Guard’s larger Training and Education Center here. The TEC has provided professional development for tens of thousands of airmen.
“You are going to be a part of that tradition,” said Felch.
Lankford served as commandant from 1968 to 1981. He passed away in 2008 with more than 42 years of service in the active duty Air Force and Air Guard.
His accomplishments and service are also a parting lesson through the Paul H. Lankford Commandant Award.
It’s awarded to the student who “makes the significant contribution to the overall success of each class by demonstrating superior leadership abilities and excellent skills as a team member.”
This year, the Center will graduate more than 2,000 Total Force students. Petty officers from Canada are counted in with more international students planned.
Students attend either the six-week in-residence course here or a 14-week interactive satellite course from their home base with a shortened campus attendance.
“I believe we have the best of the best when it comes to NCO Academy and ALS, to include satellite,” said Lamar A. Anderson, superintendent for NCOA. “The instructors take a lot of pride in what they do, and they put a lot of effort into the learning of each individual.”
Anderson also welcomed the incoming class and introduced them to their 17 instructors, who guided them through a busy first day.
“It’s one of the best jobs to do, and it’s an honor to be able to continue Chief Lankford’s mission of developing enlisted leaders,” said Anderson. “Whether it’s from our students or our instructors, we all learn something here every day.”