Air power for the airborne: Paratrooper looks skyward for lessons in leadership

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Daniel Love
  • 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs
The Airman Leadership School on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson graduated a class as normal Dec. 18, 2014, but this class had some graduating members who were out of the ordinary. In addition to the normal class of Airmen who lined up for handshakes and graduation certificates, there were a few Sailors, a few Coast Guardsmen and one Paratrooper from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

Army Cpl. Janae Nutter, a radio retransmission squad leader in 2nd Platoon, C. Company, 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion, became the first 4th IBCT paratrooper to graduate the six-week course during the ceremony in the base theatre. The course features classroom time, uniform inspections, physical training, drill and ceremony, and leadership lessons.

“I wanted to do this since I was in (Warrior Leaders Course) and I saw Airmen in our class,” Nutter said. “I always wondered, ‘how did they get there?’ One of the Airmen I was working with was really cool and down to earth so I wanted to be that person for the Army.”

Nutter was selected for the course due to her graduation from the Warrior Leaders Course, the Army sergeant’s school, on the commandant’s list. The Air Force has been sending Airmen to the Army course since early 2014.

Tech. Sgt. Krystal Nichols, Nutter’s instructor in Airman Leadership School, said she enjoyed sharing Air Force culture with the paratrooper.

“(Soldiers) always bring enthusiasm and energy,” Nichols said. “Of course they have a lot of different experiences with things the Airmen don't get to see all the time. In the Air Force you do your job and that's pretty much all you do. In the Army, they do all kinds of things in addition to their jobs, with more field experience and deployments.”

Airman Leadership School cadre reached out to find members of other services to participate in leading, in addition to finding members to be students in the course. Army Sgt. 1st Class Rhett Goodrich, platoon sergeant of 2nd Platoon, C. Company, 6th BEB, was invited to help with uniform inspections.

“Since (Nutter) is my Soldier, they asked if I could come over here and help with inspections,” Goodrich said. “I did the dress uniform inspection one week ... They're a little bit more relaxed here than the Army course but they clearly have a lot of pride in their uniforms. It's definitely different than what we do but in a lot of ways it's the same, just tailored for their mission.”

Nutter and Goodrich have both worked with the Air Force in deployed environments. Nutter said her first step toward working with her aviation-inclined brethren in the course was breaking their stereotypes of Soldiers.

“They thought we were all drill sergeants: in your face and intense and unreasonable and yelling,” Nutter said. “We're normal people too if you get to know us. It was good for me to see that with them, too. I thought they were lazy, sitting in their chairs chilling, but no, they're just like us, just a different uniform. Even though we come from different cultures, we're all the same team.”