McGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Three good news stories converged at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center here Dec. 19 like an early holiday gift for its staff and students: a graduation ceremony; a program anniversary; and a visit by a top leader.
The visit: the Director of the Air National Guard, Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III.
The ceremony: for 249 active duty, National Guard and Reserve Command Airmen who finished the Satellite Noncommissioned Officer Academy, the resident NCOA and the resident Airman Leadership School.
The anniversary: 20 years of Satellite Enlisted Professional Military Education.
"It is very fitting that the Director of the Air National Guard is speaking with our most recent graduates on this day," said Col. Tim Cathcart, commander of the training and education center.
Satellite learning hailed
Officials noted that the pilot test for Satellite EPME was authorized for the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center 20 years ago, December 22, 1993. Since that time, the program's popularity, broadcast reach and technology grew extensively.
Satellite NCOA today consists of 14 weeks of live interactive satellite, or high-definition, high bit rate, two-way training broadcasts over the Warrior Network followed by two weeks of in-resident training, which provides full residence credit.
It's delivered for installations across the nation to Guard members who work or attend college on the weekdays and/or have limited travel time for residence training.
Additionally, Satellite Airman Leadership School was offered this year as another option. Officials said that the course's popularity was immediate.
The work and support by many to offer Satellite EPME is a tribute to the care of the Guard member, said Cathcart.
Air National Guard Director visits
During his visit, Clarke congratulated both satellite and residence EPME graduates.
"It is a significant milestone and achievement, and something you will treasure as part of your individual and professional growth," said Clarke.
The general was the featured speaker for the graduation ceremony. He spoke for nearly 30 minutes about the state of the nation, the U.S. Air Force and its Airmen.
"... It's very hard to imagine having outstanding Airmen without institutions like this and great people like you who came here and excelled," said Clarke.
Clarke also met with TEC's total Air Force staff as well as toured their offices and classrooms to gain a better understanding of their missions.
At the Lankford Center's offices, he met with instructors and others who manage the largest volume of EPME in the Air Force.
At TEC's Media and Engagement Division, Clarke went on-camera in the TEC TV broadcast studios. He commented on the state of the Air National Guard as well as offered his perspective on professional military education.
"In all the things that you do to ensure that you grow, that you increase your rank and responsibility to become more value added to the ... Air Force it is education," said Clarke.
The general also stressed that Total Force education forums offer unique and valuable opportunities to work with the other services.
EPME graduates distinguished
Leaders pointed out that the recent graduating class included Airmen who returned to finish their EPME after the government shutdown sent them home without their completion certificates.
"You've persevered," said Cathcart. "... and made yourselves better Airmen." "We look forward to graduating you and getting you back home for the holidays."
Earning the Commandant Leadership Award were Satellite Noncommissioned Officer Academy Class's Staff Sgt. Rivanita Tudela, in-resident NCOA's Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Arochas and Airman Leadership School's Staff Sgt. Codey Kinemond.
Academic achievement awards were presented to Tech. Sgt. Andrew Kondor, Tech. Sgt. Shawntina Graham and Senior Airman Jamie Salunga. There were 25 Distinguished Graduates in the combined class.
The John L. Levitow Award - the highest award bestowed for any Air Force EPME - was earned by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Stone, Tech. Sgt. Takey Williams and Senior Airman Theartles Bowden.