SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – More than 60 airmen attended the inaugural session of the First Four Airmen Leadership Conference, known as FALCON, Aug. 8 and 9, at the Scott Air Force Base Education Center.
Falcons of the feathered variety are known for their unfettered flight and exceptional vision. This group of airmen, and particularly those who developed the program, share these attributes, in many ways.
“FALCON is a way for airmen to learn the skills that they need, through other airmen,” said Airman 1st Class Richard Thompson, a conference planner.
According to Airman 1st Class Jacob Beeman, First Four president, the event has been in the planning stages for at least six months.
“We wanted to build a conference for airmen by airmen,” Beeman said. “We were tired of people, who don’t know us, trying to create events that we wouldn’t necessarily like to attend.”
With the aid of a few senior enlisted members, the airmen originally planned a one-day event, but it quickly grew beyond that with workshops held over a two-day period.
Workshops were facilitated by Air Force senior non-commissioned officers, an Air Force officer and one civilian, and included sessions on various aspects of leadership and career advancement.
There were also competitive events involving military writing and impromptu speaking.
Maj. Spencer Thomas, U.S. Transportation Command Protocol officer, facilitated a session on becoming an officer, and since the event was open to all services, Senior Master Sgt. Darryl Dew, USTRANSCOM, addressed working in a joint environment.
“As a former enlisted member, I'm extremely honored and humbled to have been given the opportunity to facilitate the 'Stripes to Bars' workshop,” Thomas said. “It was great to see such a large turnout of motivated, diverse first-term airmen aspiring to compete for a commission and ultimately lead troops.
“The airmen of the FALCON planning committee are to be commended for their leadership, initiative, and commitment to professional development,” Thomas added.
FALCON was more than a group of young men and women who gathered to share information and ideas.
“FALCON made history not only in its proof-of-concept, but also as the largest junior enlisted event on base,” Beeman said. “With over 60 junior enlisted members participating, we demonstrated not only the capability of First Four to organize and direct a conference for airmen by airmen, but also the motivation of airmen to succeed in leadership, professional development, and networking.
“FALCON was truly a base-wide event,” Beeman continued, “and we appreciate our partners who assisted us in establishing a conference of such magnitude.”
Chief Master Sgt. Marty Klukas, USTRANSCOM Senior Enlisted Leader, delivered the commencement address, touching on items such as fear of public speaking, combat power, leadership and teamwork, physical training and the importance of investing wisely. He also thanked the airmen for their military service.
"I think these young airmen are heroes,” Klukas said. “With little assistance, they put together an awesome professional development seminar. These young leaders get it. I'm not the least bit worried about the future of our force when we have warriors of this caliber in the breech to take over for us.”
The First Four council plans to make the conference a yearly event.
Senior Airman Laurence Reynolds, 375th OSS, First Four sergeant at arms, who helped organize FALCON, was pleased with the outcome.
“In my opinion it went well,” Reynolds said. “There was a lot of positive feedback from the airmen. They enjoyed the workshops and received a lot of useful information.
“We had a turnout of 61 airmen, Reynolds continued. “Our goal was 100, so now that people have seen it and heard about it, I am positive we will not only meet, but exceed, next year's goal.
“There were a lot of things learned from the committee aspect,” Reynolds added. “It allowed me to step out of my comfort zone to learn and obtain new skills I can apply to my military career as I prepare for the next level of NCO.”
- USTRANSCOM -