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114th Fighter Wing NCO Academy graduates excel

Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Leffring, right, receives the Distinguished Graduate Award for NCO academy class 16-5 from Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, Command Chief Master Sgt. of Air Mobility Command, and Chief Master Sgt. Edward Walden, Sr., Commandant of the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center, here, Aug. 12, 2016, at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center in Louisville, Tenn. The distinguished graduate award is presented to the top 10 percent of the class.   (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jerry D. Harlan/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Leffring, right, receives the Distinguished Graduate Award for NCO academy class 16-5 from Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, Command Chief Master Sgt. of Air Mobility Command, and Chief Master Sgt. Edward Walden, Sr., Commandant of the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center, here, Aug. 12, 2016, at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center in Louisville, Tenn. The distinguished graduate award is presented to the top 10 percent of the class. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jerry D. Harlan/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Bo Ellefson receives the Commandant Leadership Award for NCO academy class 16-5 from Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, Command Chief Master Sgt. of Air Mobility Command and Chief Master Sgt. Edward Walden, Sr., Commandant of the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center, here, Aug. 11, 2016, at the I. G. Brown Training and Education Center in Louisville, Tenn. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jerry D. Harlan/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Bo Ellefson receives the Commandant Leadership Award for NCO academy class 16-5 from Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, Command Chief Master Sgt. of Air Mobility Command and Chief Master Sgt. Edward Walden, Sr., Commandant of the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center, here, Aug. 11, 2016, at the I. G. Brown Training and Education Center in Louisville, Tenn. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jerry D. Harlan/Released)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Tech. Sgt's Bo Ellefson and Jonathan Leffring, both members of the 114th Fighter Wing, returned from attendance at the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center with graduation honors.  Ellefson was the recipient of the Commandant's Award and Leffring was a Distinguished Graduate.(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Nancy Ausland/Released)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Tech. Sgt's Bo Ellefson and Jonathan Leffring, both members of the 114th Fighter Wing, returned from attendance at the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center with graduation honors. Ellefson was the recipient of the Commandant's Award and Leffring was a Distinguished Graduate.(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Nancy Ausland/Released)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Tech. Sgt. Bo Ellefson and Tech. Sgt. John Leffring, both members of the 114th Fighter Wing, have several things in common.

Both have been members of the unit for 10 years, both work full-time for the South Dakota Air National Guard, both are married, and both recently attended the NCO Academy in-residence at McGhee-Tyson ANGB, Tenn. graduating with honors.

Ellefson brought home the prestigious Paul H. Lankford Commandant's Leadership Award while Leffring was honored to receive the Distinguished Graduate Award.

"I told Col. Nate (Alholinna) before I left that I'd bring home some hardware." said Ellefson. "I absolutely set out to do my best from day one with the intention of being a recipient of an award."

Leffring had the same goal. Both young Airmen appreciate the value of attending professional military edcuation in-residence versus just completing the career development course (CDC) at home.

"I didn't attend ALS in-residence so I wanted to be sure to get the experience with the NCO Academy." said Leffring. "Everyone I talked to told me what an amazing experience it was and if I had the chance to, I should go in-residence. I'm very glad I did."

One of the biggest take-aways for both was the chance to network and build friendships with their peers from all over the U.S. as well as learn leadership skills to help them progress in their careers.

"The relationships you build when you are down there will last a very long time. It's a small Air Force and you will see these people again." said Leffring.

Ellefson agrees. He also believes his time studying alongside his peers will make him a better leader in the future.

"The NCO Academy experience has filled my toolbox with the knowledge needed to be an influential leader. I will default to the lessons I learned in order to lead subordinates to successful futures with the 114th Fighter Wing." stated Ellefson.

Ellefson's award, the Paul H. Lankford Commandant's Award, was awarded to just one out of the 150 students in the class. After boarding and interviews, Ellefson was selected and presented the award by Chief Master Sgt. Edward Walden, Sr., Commandant of the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center.

The Distinguished Graduate Award won by Leffring is awarded to the top 10% of the graduating class and is based on their graded tests, speeches and essays, as well as selection by their classmates.

Leffring lives with his wife, Holly, in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Ellefson, originally from Viborg, S.D., lives with his wife, Melanie in Harrisburg, S.D.

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