For most, Airman Leadership School is part of the transition between the ranks of junior Airman and NCO and provides a training opportunity for members to learn leadership skills. However, it is not limited to uniformed Airmen. U.S. Air Force civil service members can attend the course and are eligible to earn the same awards as other service members.
Rebecca Paddymo, 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron program coordinator, attended the ALS 22-6 class and was the first Team Ramstein civilian to receive the John L. Levitow award for outstanding leadership. The 569 USFPS is based at Vogelweh Military Complex, but is part of the 86th Airlift Wing based on Ramstein Air Base.
“I attended ALS as a way to progress my career and learn everything I could about the military, but I did not expect to win anything,” Paddymo said. “I do not go to work trying to win awards. The award is special, but the class and my teammates are what I am going to look back on the most.”
Paddymo said her goal during ALS was to gain an understanding of the bigger picture that comes with service.
“I may not have been able to do uniform inspections with my classmates, but I still marched with them — even if I was in high heels,” Paddymo laughed. “We are all part of the same team and we are there to achieve the same goals. I was so grateful my teammates accepted and welcomed me as one of them even though I do not wear a uniform. I loved every second of the class.”
Paddymo’s leadership knew she wanted to continue her education in the military. After she asked to be part of the class, her leaders jumped into action and got her a spot in the course.
“She always wants to learn more and be better than she was yesterday,” said U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Kayla Hatfield, 569 USFPS commander support staff section officer in charge. “All of us here want the best for her.”
Hatfield believes Paddymo is a successful person because of her work ethic and attitude. She said Paddymo greets every opportunity with a smile and never turns down a challenge.
“She is a crucial part of the team here and is always helping someone,” said Hatfield. “She puts her best foot forward when doing anything and it shows in her work.”
Paddymo said she was conflicted about the award. She said at times she feels like a military member would be better suited to win the award, however, her instructor disagrees.
“She came here and led Airmen right from the get-go,” said Tech. Sgt. George Linen, 86th Force Support Squadron ALS instructor. “She was a student in this class and was not chosen based on anything else except her peers. They thought she was the best in the class and her grades were exceptional.”
Paddymo worked in various jobs in the civilian world before working for the U.S. military and brought a unique experience and perspective to the team.
“During the class she provided a valuable insight into the civilian sector of the Air Force that many Airmen do not get to see,” Linen said. “She has worked for the private sector and brought a corporate mindset to the class. I think more civilians should participate in professional military education courses because we can only benefit from learning from each other.”
Paddymo was born in Ghana and moved to the U.S. later in life and her family who still lives there were thrilled to hear she won the award.
“When I won the award they were so happy to hear it, but they were more interested in hearing about the experiences I had during my class,” Paddymo said. “They know I am not driven by awards and decorations, but by the people I surround myself with and how they help me become a better person.”
Paddymo reflects on the class with fond memories of the people she was with. She said it is a valuable resource everyone who is eligible should attend.
“The class meant so much to me and it opened my eyes to so many great things,” Paddymo said. “My classmates built me up and let me into their world. I learned about other people’s lives and how they positively affect the Air Force. It showed me there are great people around this area and how they are so caring and intelligent. If I could, I would take the class again in a heartbeat.”
U.S. Air Force civil service members are highly encouraged to pursue Professional Military Education Courses such as ALS, Squadron Office School, Air Command and Staff College and Air War College. More information can be found in AFI 36-2670.