129th maintainer is top grad at Airman Leadership School

McGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn -- A member of the 129th Rescue Wing was presented the John L. Levitow award for his accomplishments at Airman Leadership School during the class graduation ceremony at The I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center here, Sept. 10.

Senior Airman James K. Parmentier, a guidance and control systems avionics technician with the 129th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was the top graduate of the 47 airmen who attended Airman Leadership School Class 09-5.

The John L. Levitow Award is the highest honor awarded a graduate of any Air Force enlisted professional military education course. It is named for Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. John L. Levitow for his actions during the Vietnam War. It is presented to the one student who not only demonstrates academic excellence, but also the outstanding attributes of leadership, enthusiasm, military bearing, and dedication to the spirit and mission of the total Air Force. It is based on objective testing, performance evaluations, demonstrated leadership, and student and instructor points.

"I'm honored and humbled that I was selected for this award," said Airman Parmentier, who was the B-Flight leader of the class. "I did not expect it and it's nice to know that I did that good of a job and got noticed for it. It really is a great honor."

"Senior Airman Parmentier is very deserving of this award," said Tech. Sgt. Jeela S. Matthews, the Airman Leadership School instructor for B-flight. "The entire flight voted for him. It speaks volumes that the whole flight believed in and accepted him throughout the entire class."

Sergeant Matthews added that she gave him the max instructor points possible and she had never done that for a student before.

"He was one of my best airmen," she said, "As a flight leader, he did everything you would expect a flight leader to do and more. He was very open, understanding, thorough and professional. He went out of his way to talk to and help others. He did everything right."

Airman Parmentier said he enjoyed his experience at Airman Leadership School and learned a lot about himself and others.

"I got to meet a lot of really good people," said Airman Parmentier, who works at Lockheed Martin as a satellite component testing technician and is pursuing an engineering degree. "We had people from everywhere in my class...Alaska, California, Arkansas, Iowa. It was fun to get together with people and get to know them, help them out where I could, and for them to help me. They helped me through it as much as I helped them."

The 47 airmen of Class 09-5 included 34 members of the Air National Guard and 13 Air Force Reservists. They came from 24 different states and the U.S. territory of Guam.

Airman Leadership School is a 5-week in-residence course that prepares senior airmen for positions of greater responsibility by providing many of the leadership skills required of supervisors and reporting officials. The course enhances their development by strengthening their ability to lead, follow, and manage while they gain a broader understanding of the military profession.

The John L. Levitow award is named in honor of Sgt. John L. Levitow, one of only two Air Force enlisted men to receive the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.

Levitow received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on Feb. 24, 1969. Serving as a loadmaster on an AC-47 gunship over Long Binh, South Vietnam, his aircraft was severely damaged by mortar fire. Suffering from over 40 shrapnel wounds to his back and legs, he saw a smoking magnesium flare amid a pile of spilled ammunition canisters. Despite loss of blood and partial loss of feeling in his right leg, he threw himself on the flare, hugged it close, dragged himself to an open cargo door and hurled the flare out. Almost immediately, the flare ignited harmlessly. Levitow's actions saved the aircraft and the lives of seven crewmembers.