TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Servant leadership was the overarching theme at the 2017 Air Force Sergeants Association International Convention Professional Airmen’s Conference held July 22-27, 2017, in Reno, Nevada.
Several guests of honor attended the annual event, including Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright and Retired Army Command Sergeant Major Patrick Alston.
“(Being a servant leader) is what is going to allow our loved ones to enjoy the freedoms they enjoy each and every day,” said Alston. “The theme of this event is paramount. You must have a servant mentality to get after what we are facing as a nation today.”
Alston commented on being the one percent of Americans who serve in the military.
“If you do the equation, at any given time, if there are roughly 300 million Americans, there are 297 million Americans standing on your shoulders, enjoying the freedoms they enjoy today,” he continued.
The Professional Airmen’s Conference is the flagship event for the Air Force Sergeants Association.
Airmen in attendance had the opportunity to not only meet the guests of honor but to learn from and ask questions to past and present Air Force leadership during the professional development forums. This included panels with former chief master sergeants of the Air Force and current enlisted leadership.
“I would venture to say that this is the premiere professional development opportunity in our Air Force for any enlisted Airman,” said Wright. “Continue to grow, continue to develop yourself, continue to attend events like the (AFSA PAC) and continue to make yourself a better Airman.”
Wright spoke about his personal objectives as the newest chief master sergeant of the Air Force.
“I owe you honesty, I owe you commitment and I owe you accountability,” said Wright. “I owe it to you to make sure we communicate about the things that are important.”
Wright also inspired Airmen to grow as leaders.
“Continue to motivate and encourage your Airmen who follow behind you,” he said. “Take on the development of your Airmen as a primary responsibility.”
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson spoke about the growth and education of Airmen.
“Focus on the development of young leaders for the next generation of leaders in the Air Force,” she said. “Our enlisted corps are the backbone of the United States Air Force. A backbone that is stiff, straight and strong.”
Wilson also commented on Wright’s recent announcement of the changes to Enlisted Professional Military Education.
“There are so many young Airmen who come into the Air Force because of the training and education,” she said. “We need to identify those young Airmen of potential and help develop them into non-commissioned officers and first sergeants that all Airmen will be willing to follow.”
As the conference came to a close, Airmen from the Band of the Golden West and the Base Honor Guard, from Travis Air Force Base, California, entertained and presented the colors, respectively, at the Air Force Honors Banquet, where Jeffrey Ledoux, AFSA international president, and Wright, presented awards for AFSA’s Airman and NCO of the Year, as well as their selection for the William H. Pitsenbarger Award.
Since 1961, AFSA has looked after the interests and concerns of enlisted Airmen, their families and retirees.
“Your participation in this conference and support of our Air Force is extremely important during these exciting and sometimes challenging times,” said Ledoux, in a letter to AFSA members. “We have strength in numbers as we join together to speak with one powerful voice to our government and elected leaders. Collectively, we can have a positive impact on the pay, benefits and quality of life for all who proudly wear the Air Force uniform today, or have done so in the past.”