Students attending the John J. Rhodes Airman Leadership School were the first to participate in the ALS unit mentorship program Aug. 27 with the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron, which took them through a mini course of the jobs CE does.
“The ALS unit mentorship program was a vision brought about by Brig. Gen. Mike Rothstein, 56th Fighter Wing commander, as a way for units to showcase their capabilities and demonstrate their mission,” said Master Sgt. Robert Dwyer, 56th CES Prime Base Expeditionary Emergency Force manager. “The program also provides an avenue for students to receive valuable senior NCO mentorship from outside their own squadrons and career fields, which provides the students further insight on leadership and professional development.”
The course was made up of 10 obstacles that each of the four ALS flights had to complete. At each obstacle the students experienced things CE Airmen would do while deployed, such as building a tent from the ground up, putting out a fire or running while wearing a bomb suit, fire suit and chemical gear.
“The course was approximately one mile in length,” Dwyer said. “As a team they completed each obstacle and received a puzzle piece as a token for accomplishing the task. At the end of the course they were required to put the tokens and puzzle pieces together, and finished by reciting the Airman’s Creed. The four teams finished with an average time of 58 minutes.”
The challenge was designed to make the flights work as a team but also have a little fun.
“We got to ride on Segways with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team,” said Senior Airman Derrick Kennard, 607th Air Control Squadron. “That was fun. More importantly we learned about teamwork. I saw with my flight that no matter what obstacle we came across, a positive attitude and teamwork got us through. That’s something I can take back with me to be a better NCO in the future.”
This was the first time ALS has done the unit mentorship program, although some other bases have similar programs.
“This being the inaugural event, we even unveiled the lightning bolt symbol at the graduation, it went well,” said Master Sgt. Sheris Poisson, 56th Force Support Squadron ALS commandant. “It was due to fantastic support, collaboration and communication.”
For this first event, CE was chosen to lead the way by wing leadership.
“CE was hand-selected and challenged by General Rothstein to be the initial unit to host the mentorship program,” Dwyer said. “The half-day event was hosted by the 56th CES NCO organization and each flight had an NCO and senior NCO as part of their team. The event was an awesome opportunity to provide guidance to our new first-line supervisors and future leaders.”
ALS will continue to do the unit mentorship program with subsequent classes and challenge units to be ready.
“When this program gets to your unit, you better step up and be involved,” Poisson said. “The units are contributing what the instructors have provided for the students. We have given them the tools to be successful supervisors and leaders in our Air Force. The units involved will need to add to that.”
Units will volunteer to participate at the ALS graduations when the current unit commander passes on the lightning bolt to the next unit. During the graduation Aug. 29, the 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron commander, Maj. Kathryn Roman, accepted the challenge to mentor the next class.