Graduation day
From left, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy is joined by his counterpart, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt with graduates of the Air Force Senior NCO Academy Tuesday. Featured second from right is Lt. Gen. David Fadok, commander and president of the Air University. (Air Force photo by Bud Hancock)
SNCOA holds commencement at Gunter

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

5/4/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, GUNTER ANNEX, Ala. -- Almost 400 students graduated from the Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy Tuesday at Kisling Hall, the first graduation ceremony at the academy's auditorium.

Class 12-C, the 204th class to graduate from the SNCOA, featured 399 students, including Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Sailors. Two international students were from Germany and Croatia.

The ceremony moved to Gunter Annex, home of the SNCOA, from off-base locations as a cost-efficiency measure.

"Fiscal challenges allow us to seek efficiencies at every opportunity," said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy, who attended the graduation events. "This change to our professional military education academy graduation ceremonies will save the Air Force millions of dollars in TDY to graduation costs alone, while ensuring the graduates receive a dignified ceremony."

Lt. Gen. David Fadok, commander and president of the Air University, shared his leadership insights as guest speaker.

"Take these values and skills and commit yourself to applying them to the fullest," Fadok said. "When you do, you will succeed."

He encouraged students to continue seeking opportunities to become better leaders.
"It is vitally important that you never stop learning in your attempt to master this art and science we call leadership," Fadok said.

He shared his leadership principle - people first, mission always. "If I do a good job taking care of the people, ... they will do a great job taking care of the mission," he said. "Your desire to want to successfully lead others should be grounded first and foremost in your desire to serve others."

He said the students will experience setbacks, but how the senior NCOs handle these challenges will define their success. "Learn from your setbacks; lean on your fellow wingmen, shipmates and battle buddies; and never, ever give up."

Fadok told the students the Air Force is facing lean fiscal times and reduced resources, which is both a challenge and an opportunity for leaders today.

"Move forward and do not allow the old ways of doing business to stand in the way of thinking," he said. "Think boundlessly, challenge the comfort of convention and encourage your followers to do the same."

Class 12-C joins more than 61,000 joint and coalition students who have graduated from the SNCOA since 1973.

"Graduating from the Senior NCO Academy is a tremendous career milestone," Roy said. "Graduates leave this academy armed with advanced leadership and management skills, ready to take on the challenging issues the military faces."

Roy said he has high expectations for the students who spent 33 days learning how to lead in today's dynamic, joint-force environment. "They will be challenged, and graduating from this course means they're prepared to take those challenges on," he said.

Class 12-C accomplishments
  • Master Sgt. Matthew Mancill was awarded the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James M. McCoy Academic Achievement Award by the Air Force Association.
  • Flight 28 won the Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger Team Award from the Air University Foundation.
  • Senior Master Sgt. Robert Jackson was awarded the Chief Master Sgt. Bobby G. Renfroe Commandant's Award.
  • Senior Master Sgt. Lavor Kirkpatrick was awarded the John L. Levitow Award from the Air Force Sergeants Association.
  • As part of the Partnership in Education program, 248 students volunteered more than 900 hours in 14 local schools.
  • Separately, the class volunteered 1,023 hours in support of 22 community projects and raised $3,838 for local charities, including animal shelters, soup kitchens and Habitat for Humanity.