Maintainer wrenches Levitow Award

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Abigail Klein
  • 931st Air Refueling Wing

When Senior Airman Taner Thomas decided to go to the Thomas N. Barnes Airman Leadership School, he did it because he wanted the “hands-on” experience the class could provide, as well as the chance to meet Airmen outside the hangar.

Thomas, an electrical and environmental journeyman from the 931st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, ended up walking away with more than experience, he also became the recipient of the John L. Levitow Award, the highest award presented at ALS. 

ALS is a 24 duty days long Air Force program designed to develop Airmen into effective front-line supervisors.  During ALS, a recipient is selected based on their academic scores, test scores and peer instructor points.  Thomas was selected out of 39 students to receive the honor.

Master Sgt. Jennifer Abel, McConnell ALS commandant, and his ALS instructors, chose Thomas for the Levitow Award because not only did he excel in these three areas, he was also very helpful to his teammates.

“He has a quiet demeanor which led him to be the rock within in the class,” said Abel.  “His ability to help others was because of his self-discipline to do the assignments and study, which in turn helped his flight.”

Though Thomas’ fellow students made predictions early on that he was definitely going to be the Levitow winner, Thomas didn’t let it go to his head.

“I honestly didn’t think about it, and my class kind of joked about it, but I never thought that that would be me,” Thomas said.  “I was definitely surprised.”

His supervisor, Master Sgt. Trevor Derenthal, also a Levitow winner, helped prepare Thomas for the course.  The fact that Thomas also walked away with the Levitow award did not confound him at all.

“I believe the outstanding work ethic he consistently displays in our squadron played a big part in this award,” said Derenthal.  “I was not surprised at all.  I think they saw the same talent and selflessness that we see on a regular basis.”

As for Thomas, he believes his job with the AMXS molded him for success at ALS.

“Being in maintenance, and a Senior Airman, you’re definitely already a leader because you’re training [Airmen] right out of tech school,” he said.  “Me taking charge of working on an aircraft definitely helped me out with the leadership aspect of ALS.”

Though he walked away with the big prize, Thomas actually says one of the biggest awards he received from ALS was the same reason he chose to go to the school—the chance to meet other Airman.

“My biggest take away [from ALS] was meeting people and seeing different aspects of being an Airmen,” he said. “When you’re a maintainer, you don’t really get to do that that often.”

McConnell’s ALS prepares 170 Senior Airmen each year for leadership roles as Non Commissioned Officers. Students learn military professionalism, leadership skills, supervisor skills and effective methods of communication during the course. ALS is one of four professional development courses enlisted airmen must complete to progress in their Air Force careers. For more information about McConnell’s Airman Leadership School, call (316) 759-3732.