Air War College graduates make impression

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

5/27/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- In addition to enhancing their leadership skills, graduates of the Spaatz Center's Air War College class of 2011 made a difference in the community before their graduation Thursday in Jones Auditorium.

"I was constantly amazed at how professional and 'let's get it done' everyone was," said class president Col. Thomas Harrell.

Students participated in service projects, spending more than 300 hours renovating a veteran's home. The class also organized a 22-person team for a dragon boat race, raising $3,000 for the nonprofit agency Rebuilding Together Alabama. The team finished in second place.

Colonel Harrell was amazed that the team, which included international students and the commandant, came together so quickly after the class started, which was just the start of the students' dedication to the community and the military.

"Being here, for me, reenergizes the concept ... that I work with stellar people," he said.

"Your year of professional study has changed each of you in some way, making you better prepared for the uncertainty that awaits you," said Maj. Gen. Robert Kane, commandant, said in his message to the class. "You have developed deep and enduring relationships with your classmates even though in many cases you came from completely different backgrounds."

This year's class of 240 contained 117 students from the Air Force, 24 from the Army, 13 from the Navy and Coast Guard, and 10 from the Marines. Seventeen were from the Guard and Reserves. The 44 international fellows were from all around the world, including Brazil, the Czech Republic, Nigeria and the Philippines. Students spent their year at Maxwell learning about the joint, interagency and international security environment and their roles as strategic leaders.

Thursday's ceremony featured guest speaker retired Lt. Gen. Daniel Leaf, who served as deputy commander, U.S. Pacific Command at Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii, and vice commander, Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. General Leaf currently serves as vice president for Full Spectrum Initiatives, Defense Systems division, Northrop Grumman Information Systems in Herndon, Va.

"I am confident that regardless of your nationality, branch of service, agency, or whether you are military or civilian, you will have the opportunity to apply the lessons learned here at Air War College in your next assignment and throughout your career," General Kane said. "When that opportunity comes, seize it with confidence knowing that your educational and personal experiences here have prepared you to excel as great colonels."

Awards presented

Secretary of the Air Force Leadership Award; Colonel Harrell, Air Force, was recognized as the student who demonstrated the greatest leadership ability.

Wright Brothers Officership Award: Lt. Col. Michael Norton, Air National Guard, was recognized as the student who made outstanding contributions to the class. This award is sponsored by the Air University Foundation.

Distance Learning Academic Excellence Award; Lt. Col. Lynette Herbert, Air Force Reserve, was recognized as the top academic distance learning performer.