By Tech. Sgt. Wes Wright
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 50th Space Wing hosted an Airman Leadership School graduation for the first time at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Oct. 10.
Twelve senior airmen from Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, were among the 48 graduates in class 18-7. Previously, the 21st Space Wing hosted all Front Range ALS graduations, as the schoolhouse is located at Peterson AFB.
ALS is a five week Air Force program designed to develop Airmen into effective front-line supervisors. It focuses on developing leadership abilities as well as effective communication.
“We do extend the opportunity to the other Front Range wings to preside over the graduation ceremonies on a rotating basis,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Waldrip, Peterson Air Force Base ALS commandant.
While Col. Jennifer Grant, 50th Space Wing commander, was the host for this class, Waldrip said one thing that did not change is the quality of the Airmen in attendance.
“Class 18-7 was composed of 48 highly-driven, extremely professional Airmen,” he said. “They have attacked every task and assignment with motivation to excel, and have persevered through the academic rigor, all while maintaining outstanding positive attitudes.”
Grant was impressed with the Airmen as well.
“As a senior leader, there is no better event to host than an ALS graduation,” she said. “The seeds that were planted not just tonight, but over the past five weeks, are growing leaders who are now graduates — we have great hope for you and great expectations.”
Senior Master Sgt. Justin Halterman, 50th Operations Group first sergeant, was the guest speaker at the event.
“Every one of these graduates will walk out of here tonight as an Airman leader,” he said. “Each of you has earned the privilege to lead the most important resource the Air Force has — its Airmen.”
Senior Airman Boone Helm, 4th Space Operations Squadron communications systems and terminal operator and Distinguished Graduate award winner, reflected on the last five weeks.
“ALS was a great experience,” he said. “They weren’t lying to us when they said this was a challenging course with a lot of expectations. What I found most interesting and learned a lot from was hearing the stories and experiences of other Airmen in our class. In this course, we learned about how other people lead differently from you, how it may work or not work and apply that knowledge to your career going forward.”
Waldrip said it gives him and the rest of the ALS staff great joy to shape the future leaders of the Air Force.
“I most looked forward to seeing the pride and joy on the Airmen’s faces as their names were called to receive their ALS diploma from Colonel Grant,” Waldrip said. “We take pride in knowing when an Airman graduates from Peterson AFB ALS, they are prepared to go back to their units and perform as noncommissioned officers ready for whatever new leadership opportunities their commanders have for them.”
Even though the ALS experience was challenging, Helm said it provided him with strong leadership skills and knowledge as he advances in his career.
“In ALS, we were expected to conduct ourselves the way an NCO would conduct himself or herself,” he said. “The ALS staff does a great job of holding us to a high standard. I am a little apprehensive, but I am excited to take on new Airmen. Being the person they go to and setting them up for success is what I am most looking forward to when I go back to my squadron.”
Grant had a charge for the newly minted ALS graduates.
“Class 18-7, I encourage you as you go forward to remember what you have learned, what you have experienced and remember how you felt as you were growing into the leaders you have become today on your graduation day,” she said. “We need you to encourage other Airmen to learn, to think and to feel because that’s how we get stronger and continue to make our Air Force better.”