HomeNewsArticle Display

Eglin Airman selected by Welsh for unique commissioning program

Senior Airman Markese Buckholtz, 58th FS aviation resource manager, takes a call at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., March 30, 2016. Throughout the morning Buckholtz coordinates flights with pilots to begin the sorties for the F-35A Lightning II. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrea Posey)

Senior Airman Markese Buckholtz, the 58th FS aviation resource manager, takes a call at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., March 30, 2016. Throughout the morning, Buckholtz coordinates flights with pilots to begin the sorties for the F-35A Lightning II. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrea Posey)

Senior Airman Markese Buckholtz, 58th FS aviation resource manager, sits at his desk at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., March 30, 2016. Buckholtz will be attending Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona as part of the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program. After spending a little over two years in the enlisted force, Buckholtz hopes to commission as an officer after receiving his degree and fly aircraft such as the F-35A Lightning II. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrea Posey)

Senior Airman Markese Buckholtz, the 58th FS aviation resource manager, sits at his desk at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., March 30, 2016. Buckholtz will be attending Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., as part of the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program. After spending a little over two years in the enlisted force, Buckholtz hopes to commission as an officer after receiving his degree and fly aircraft such as the F-35A Lightning II. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrea Posey)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series. These stories focus on individual Airmen, highlighting their Air Force story.)

An Airman’s cell phone rings, but he doesn’t answer because for him personal calls can wait until after work. It rings again; he lets it go to voicemail. On the third call he finally answers and is shocked to discover Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III on the line.

During the call, Senior Airman Markese Buckholtz, the 58th Fighter Squadron aviation resource manager, learned he would become an officer through the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program, putting him on track to become a “Mustang,” an enlisted member who commissions into the officer corps.

“(Gen. Welsh) asked me if I still wanted to be an officer and a pilot, and I immediately answered, ‘yes sir,’” Buckholtz said. “He explained to me that I was his nomination (for the program) and that he wanted me to keep exceling as I moved forward in the Air Force.”

SLECP is an Air Force program designed to provide the opportunity for senior leaders to select exceptional members from the enlisted tier to attend an accredited college while on active-duty status. Program participants are required to complete a degree within three years before attending Officer Training School to earn their commission.

Last year, Buckholtz represented his career field when Welsh visited the 33rd Fighter Wing, which gave him the opportunity to share his desire to commission and his struggle to find the right program with the general.

The two-year Airman explained that he was looking for a program that would allow him to keep his wife and two children financially stable while he commissioned.

Welsh recommended Buckholtz investigate the Air Force’s newest commissioning program as an alternative solution.

To be competitive for SLECP, an individual must be enlisted and a U.S. citizen between the ages of 18 and 35. They must also have completed 24 semester hours by the end of the selection window. The school of choice must be associated or affiliated with a ROTC program for accountability and administrative oversight.

Buckholtz’s supervisor, Master Sgt. Latoya Cleveland, the 58th FS superintendent, said his character, work ethic and exemplary records made him a perfect candidate for the program.

“Senior Airman Buckholtz is a stellar Airman who truly embodies the Air Force's core values,” Cleveland said. “I have no doubt that the next chapter of his life will further mold him into becoming a phenomenal Airman.”

More than a year since his first talk with the general, Buckholtz is on track to become an officer.

In August, he and his family will move to Prescott, Arizona, where he’ll begin classes at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, where he previously received an associate’s degree.

Although he admits the idea of moving west with his family is nerve-racking, the soon-to-be Mustang said he is ultimately excited to start the program.

“It feels amazing and almost unreal,” Buckholtz said. “I hope this program will allow me to be able to fly the mighty F-35 (Lightning II) one day. However, no matter what happens down the line, I will be excited to serve as an officer in the United States Air Force.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @HQAirUniversity: AU recently partnered with @ASU to transform the distance learning experience for @USAirForce officers and civilians g…
.@GrandSlamWing leadership discusses the mission of the Combined Air Operations Center & its ability to execute air… https://t.co/9OnqXnsXLO
Air Force Col. Robert Behnken makes history alongside @USMC Col. (ret.) Douglas Hurley with the first manned launch… https://t.co/vlwqAecwrL
June Primary Elections season is coming! Contact the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) by calling 1-800-438… https://t.co/QrstiCwhez
RT @NASA: .@AstroBehnken = joint operations commander for the mission https://t.co/QuSYOgvRKK
RT @SecAFOfficial: Watch #LaunchAmerica live from @NASAKennedy tomorrow, May 27 at 4:33 p.m. ET ⬇️The @usairforce & @SpaceForceDoD are supp…
.@SecAFOfficial visited @HollomanAFB, @CannonAFB_, & @KIRTLAND377ABW during a 3-day trip. SECAF met with Airmen wh… https://t.co/NlwcJPg8k5
#ICYMI All official fitness testing has been suspended until Oct. 1 due to #COVID19. https://t.co/F7fWjfaInN https://t.co/plINnb0kj8
RT @AirNatlGuard: The @150SOW Medical Group assisted with #COVID19 testing at the Wellesley Health Center. While there, Airmen - along with…
Senior Amn Briana Cavassa conducts a medical screening for Airmen returning from deployment @AirAviano. To combat t… https://t.co/Hr99jonJtk
RT @AFmuseum: Already two years on public display! #WWII #memphisbelle https://t.co/sxbbaLeIsa
RT @DeptofDefense: LIVE: @ChiefPentSpox, @DoD_USD_PR & DOD Chief Management Officer Lisa Hershman update Pentagon reporters. https://t.co/E…
RT @DeptofDefense: WATCH LIVE: @ChiefPentSpox Jonathan Rath Hoffman, @DoD_USD_PR Hon. Matthew P. Donovan, & DOD Chief Management Officer Ho…
A F-22 Raptor from @TeamTyndall flies alongside a F-35 Lightning II from the @TeamEglin over the Emerald Coast. The… https://t.co/asgdBrptNN
A C-21A Learjet taxies to the flightline @RamsteinAirBase. @NATO’s Rapid Air Mobility initiative allowed the aircra… https://t.co/uFkj2RUbwy
Thoughts about #MemorialDay from Lt. Col. Jeremy Guenet @129RQW. @AirNatlGuard https://t.co/arwZC9MIow
RT @SecAFOfficial: #MemorialDay is a time to remember those #Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting and guaranteeing ou…