First civilian from Columbus AFB graduates ALS

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Davis Donaldson
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

On March 31, 2022, 14 members from the 14th Flying Training Wing graduated from Airman Leadership School at a ceremony on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.

Of the 14 members, one stood out from the rest. Mr. David Ross, 14th Medical Group optometry technician, was the first civilian from Columbus AFB to graduate from ALS.

ALS is the first level of Professional Military Education the enlisted (and civilian) airmen experience. It is designed to be an entry level leadership enhancement course to prepare airmen for positions of greater responsibility by strengthening their ability to lead, follow, and manage while also gaining a broader understanding of the military profession and their role within the Air and Space Forces.

Master Sgt. Mike Williams, ALS commandant, was asked why they sent a civilian was sent through ALS.

“I believe a Professional Military Education setting should have more total force components,” Williams said. “It really allows us to dig into the different perspectives we all collectively have. It closes a lot of communication gaps we experience in the workplace.”

He said he believes ALS really benefitted Ross and will continue to benefit other civilians in the future.

Along with being the first civilian to graduate through ALS, Ross also achieved the Commandant Award. It is an award achieved by first being nominated by your fellow classmates and then meeting a board to answer questions from the commandant and first sergeant.

Ross explained what his experience was like attending ALS.

“At first it was awkward” he said. “I think after the second week, they looked past the civilian aspect of it. From there, it was all mission oriented and what do we need to do to accomplish this.”

As well as being grateful for his classmates, Ross said he hopes the Air Force will continue to foster civilians and incorporate them through ALS.

“ALS shortens the bridge between the military and civilians,” Ross said. “That’s why I really hope that I’m not the only civilian that gets to do this. After a while, it wasn’t civilian or active duty, it was we are a team, and let’s get the job done.”