Commandant, command chief ask enlisted Airmen to act as role models

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Academy's commandant of cadets, command chief master sergeant and two junior enlisted airmen spoke to enlisted airmen on wingman ship, communication and how to be a role model here Sept. 4 during an enlisted call in Arnold Hall Theater.

Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Gregory Lengyel opened the presentation and told Airmen they should act as role models to cadets by helping them understand the Air Force core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do.

"Any chance you have to work with these cadets, please recognize they are college students who we are trying to turn into Air Force officers," Lengyel said. "They are very capable, bright, dedicated and need your help."

Airmen need to practice the core values in order to make a difference to prospective lieutenants, Lengyel said.

"Every cadet is a volunteer just like every one of you in this audience," Lengyel said. "They have joined us and need to understand because they're joining our organization, we expect them to adapt to our standards. We're not going to change our core values as an organization to accommodate them, and I think we run the risk of creating cynicism in the mind of cadets if they see Air Force members not living up to Air Force core values."

Lengyel is not an Academy graduate but said his 27 years in the service has made him successful.

"What I have discovered in 27 years is that the units who have the highest standards, maintain good order and discipline are the best performing units and have the highest morale," Lengyel said. "The reason for that is because people are proud to be associated with them and proud to be a part of them."

Airmen should be proud of the Academy's program and respect the rigorous standards cadets must follow, Lengyel said.

"It is a very strict code," Lengyel said. "There are few college students in the United States who are held to the same level of scrutiny as cadets here. They sacrifice a lot of their freedoms other college students around this nation enjoy."

Lengyel added that no form of discrimination should be tolerated here or anywhere else in the Air Force.

"The sexual assault case that happened at Lackland Air Force base took place for the same reason it could happen here," Lengyel said. "In an environment where there is a hierarchy with a superior and subordinate, there is always potential to misuse power. We won't tolerate it and as role models you should never tolerate it or do it yourselves."

Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Ludwig said Airman must understand Air Force standards in order to communicate accurately with other servicemen and through social media.

"Messaging is important, such as when you have young Airmen show up at your organization you can teach them the right way, right from the start and take good care of them," Ludwig said.

Ludwig said Airmen can always talk to their command chief.

"My door is always open, and my phone is always on," Ludwig said. "If you have an issue you would like to talk to me about, come and see me because I am here to make sure we're taking care of business the right way. There shouldn't be any break that eliminates communication at any step of the enlisted corps."

Airmen 1st Class Casey Nation and Christen Neel spoke on the importance of wingmanship in the Air Force.

Nation said combat control school was where he first learned the significance of having a wingman.

"Working as a team is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me," Nation said. "My teammates helped me get through the school. It's about helping each other every step of the way because if you're going to tough it out, you should tough it out together so your wingmen are right next to you physically or mentally. No matter where I go, the wingman concept still stays the same."

Neel said it was her supervisor Tech Sgt. Christopher Powell from the 10th Medical Group who taught her about commitment and her role as a wingman.

Neel said Powell went out of his way to make sure she arrived safely to the Academy and made her feel extremely welcome.

"His multiple acts of hospitality are something I will carry over when I become a noncommissioned officer because I know firsthand how much it means to have a wingman the first day of arrival," Neel said.