JBER Airmen share their story behind Levitow Award

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Story by A1C Christopher Morales on 12/08/2017
Two Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Airmen earned the Levitow award during Airman Leadership School and enlisted Professional Military Education which earned them the opportunity to fly in a C-17 flight simulator.

The Air Force ALS named its highest award in honor of John Lee Levitow, the lowest-ranking service member in the Air Force to receive the Medal of Honor for exceptional heroism during wartime as an Airman 1st Class.

This award is presented to students who demonstrated the most leadership and scholastic qualities based on academic performance and ratings by their peers and instructors.

Staff Sgt. Joshua McCutcheon, 517th Aircraft Maintenance Unit C-17 engine technician, stood out among his fellow Airmen in ALS by dedicating many hours to support his peers academically.

"I spent the majority of my time trying to help others the best I [could by] staying after class, helping them study, and meeting up with people on the weekend," McCutcheon said. "If someone was having a hard time or failed an assignment, it was then the responsibility of everyone in the class to help that individual. That's why we got together as often as we could, so failure never happened."

McCutcheon was a pillar of academic excellence to the other students because not only did he pass every assignment with flying colors, he dedicated countless hours studying and helping others study too.

Throughout the enlisted PME, Tech. Sgt. Andrew Winders, 673d Medical Group Inpatient Squadron multipurpose unit shift supervisor, was an exceptional class lead helping better his peers and his leadership skills. One of the only similarities between these two award recipients' classes was that each member worked together to make sure everyone passed despite McCutcheon and Winders' very different leading styles.

"We all wanted each other to succeed and there was never a time we thought anyone was here to only pass the class alone," Winders said. "They all drove me to be better leader because I saw something in each of those individuals that I wanted to improve on and learn from them."

Winders leading style was more open-minded and forward-leaning because he wanted to learn from his peers and PME to be the best leader he can be by applying himself in any situation.

"I put myself out there to learn and do more than just check the box to be fully engulfed in what was going on," Winders said. "Being the class leader, a lot of NCOs looked to me for answers. Normally, NCOs are looking down the chain taking care of our Airmen, but sometimes we forget about our peers."

As an additional reward for both of their efforts, the 3rd Operations Support Squadron let them use the C-17 flight simulator, a rare opportunity for enlisted members. Both Winders and McCutcheon flew for about an hour and a half each, and had similar opinions; it was awesome' and fun,' they said.

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