JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. - –
A Sailor assigned to the Naval Support Activity at Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station was named the John L. Levitow award winner June 14, during an Airman Leadership School graduation ceremony at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Martin, a machinist's mate, became the first Sailor to receive the Levitow award since Joint Base Charleston's Airman Leadership School began accepting service members from different branches into the program in January 2010. Martin attended ALS from May 10 to June 14 and has been stationed in Charleston for nearly two and a half years working at the JB Charleston - Weapons Station Information Protection office.
Levitow was an AC-47 gunship loadmaster who received the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Vietnam War. The Levitow award is the highest honor presented to a graduate of any Air Force Enlisted Professional Military Education.
"I'm not into awards and recognition," said Martin. "I like doing my job and find satisfaction in doing it well. When I received the award it was a big surprise. I went to ALS for the knowledge and experience of working with Airmen as a joint force, but came out with much more. I am humbled to receive such a prestigious award."
The ALS program consists of 192 hours of primarily guided discussion classroom methodology, experimental activities and exercises and case studies. The course consists of five Air University core areas: Profession of Arms, Warfare Studies, Leadership Studies, International Security Studies and Communication Studies.
"A joint environment was an interesting learning experience," Martin said. "This is my first time working with Airmen. In the Navy, we have different customs and courtesies, leadership structure and traditions than the Air Force, but we're actually not that different from one another."
Martin graduated with one other Sailor and said, although the students weren't all from the same branch of service, they all worked closely together to accomplish the tasks set before them.
"I learned many things from my Air Force colleagues and I hope they learned from me as well," he said. "I didn't know what a first shirt was before attending ALS. The Airmen didn't know an E-4 in the Navy is a non-commissioned officer. Now I know more about the Air Force than the Sailors I work with and I can share my knowledge with them."
In order to receive the Levitow award, a student must have a high academic score and be nominated by instructors and students by displaying acts of leadership, boldness and have a caring attitude.
Tech. Sgt. Brandon Hutchins, ALS non-commissioned officer in charge said, "Petty Officer Martin was a wonderful student and it shows in his test scores. He has a natural ability when it comes to leadership. His passion and drive to help other students really put him among the best students I've ever had. He took care of his family, his job, his class work and the people around him. It was an honor to work with him and the Levitow award he received was well deserved."
Martin said, his favorite part of ALS was the first sergeant's and chief's panel, where the class openly discussed with senior leadership about how to become a successful leader.
Martin hopes to be an inspiration for future Sailors who will be attending ALS and has advice to those who follow him.
"Keep an open mind," he said. "Don't focus on how the Navy and the Air Force are different. Focus on how the class can help you improve your leadership skills and how your background can help improve others. The Air Force commands the skies and the Navy commands the seas, but we work as a joint force to ensure our mission is accomplished."