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NEWS | May 4, 2015

Airman earns three John L. Levitow Awards

By Airman 1st Class Clayton Cupit Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Joint Base Charleston is home to some of the finest Airmen in today's Air Force. This fact is demonstrated by an Airman who has gone above and beyond in his career.

This individual has been awarded not one, not two, but three John L. Levitow Awards while attending Airman Leadership School, Non-Commissioned Officer Academy and Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy.

The John L. Levitow Award is the highest award for enlisted Professional Military Education in the Air Force and is presented to the student who demonstrates the most outstanding leadership and scholastic achievement throughout ALS, NCOA and SNCOA.

Only one student receives this award in each class and classes can vary in size, depending on base or school. However, class estimates for each school could be approximately 48 for ALS, 100 for NCOA and 300 for SNCOA.

Master Sgt. Christopher Copans just returned from the SNCOA with his third Levitow award.

Copans, 437th Operations Group loadmaster superintendent, special operations division, oversees the loadmaster aspect of the 437th Airlift Wing's SOL II mission.  SOL II, or Special Operations Low Level Generation Two, is the 437th AW's mission in support of specified Joint Chief of Staff missions.

Copans is also a senior master sergeant select with 14 years of service and excellence has been a trait throughout his career.

"My intent has never been to win awards," said Copans. "And honestly, the more awards you rack up, the less logical it seems you will get another one. You get a Levitow at ALS and think 'alright that's cool I got my Levitow, what's next?' Then you get another one at NCOA and think 'yeah well two out of three isn't bad.' Receiving the third one at SNCOA left me surprised."

Copans credited his success to having great flights while attending the schools.

"I had very smart and capable flight members," said Copans. "We worked well as a team and accomplished our all of our goals."

Copans went on to mention the differences between the three schools.

"ALS really focused on yourself and how to be a good leader personally," he said. "NCOA focused on a more unit, squadron level leader. And finally, SNCOA taught you how to be a good leader in the greater Air Force. All schools use the same tools, it's just the scope of information that changes."

"I'd have to say NCOA was my favorite of the three," said Copans. "When I left NCOA, it was the first time I had gone to an Air Force school and left thinking, 'Wow, I wish I knew this stuff three years ago as a young technical sergeant' "

Copans then provided some advice regarding PME.

"Don't go to class just to get an award," said Copans. "Everyone will see your intentions and won't take kindly to it. Go to the class and try to learn something. Work hard, take it seriously, dedicate yourself to the flight and try your best."