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Airmen graduate from Tinker Airman Leadership School

Thirty-seven Airmen recently graduated from Tinker’s Airman Leadership School.

Graduates are:


137th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron           

Senior Airman Yulissa Triana


155th Airlift Squadron

Senior Airman John Lagrone  


185th Logistics Readiness Squadron

Senior Airman Raymond Lange


507th Maintenance Squadron

Senior Airman Bennie Baker


552nd Air Control Network Squadron

Senior Airman Nicholas Millet              

Senior Airman Leon Mccoy    

Senior Airman Kealii Taylor   


552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

Senior Airman Neil Anderson

Senior Airman Justin Youn     

Senior Airman Nehemiah Sagiao          

Senior Airman Daniel Snook  

Senior Airman Jacob Sparaco

Senior Airman Zhanzel White

Senior Airman Aaron Anderson           

Senior Airman Dylan Dunlap

Senior Airman Toris Richardson


552nd Maintenance Group

Senior Airman Beth Hurdle


552nd Maintenance Squadron

Senior Airman Adam Case      

Senior Airman Brendan Lewis

Senior Airman David VaSquadronuez

Senior Airman Sammy Mitchell            

Senior Airman Nicholas Gundlah


552nd Maintenance Operations Squadron

Senior Airman Joshua Stuff


552nd Operations Support Squadron

Senior Airman Breylon Jordan Givan 

Senior Airman Anthony Akers              

Senior Airman Dustin Lilly


72nd Aerial Port Squadron

Senior Airman Taylor Zwiesler


72nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron

Senior Airman Leylan Umblas, Freedom Citation Winner


72nd Air Base Wing

Senior Airman Thomas Saul, Distinguished Graduate


72nd Operations Support Squadron

Senior Airman Timothy Fixter


72nd Security Forces Squadron

Senior Airman Ivy Barber       

Senior Airman Chase Patane, John L. Levitow Award

Senior Airman Joseph Currie, Leadership Award and Distinguished Graduate

Senior Airman Kelly Quispe


752nd Operations Support Squadron

Senior Airman Thomas Dyckman


965th Airborne Air Control Squadron

Senior Airman Cory Coleman, Academic Achievement Award

Senior Airman Keonte Martin, Distinguished Graduate


Freedom Citation

Senior Airman Leylan Umblas

72nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron

I grew up on an island in the Pacific called Tinian, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands about 100 miles off the coast of Guam. Growing up, my family didn’t have too much. I would wake up every morning, fry up some eggs, throw some rice on a plate, sprinkle a little bit of soy sauce for extra flavor, eat; and then boil some water so my sister and I had hot water to shower with as we got ready for school. My sister and I never really saw our parents much during the week because they were either asleep from the late shift, or not home because of the late shift.

Fast forward to 9-year-old me. My mom makes the call. We’re moving back to the Philippines because my grandparents are getting a little too old to care for themselves. On Aug. 28, 2005, we arrive. The first day there were no problems. I spend the whole day inside the house doing what most 10-year-olds would do best. Stare. I stared out the window for hours looking at the cramped neighborhood street. Houses fighting for space; kids running around without a care in the world - some without shoes, some without shirts, some even still in diapers. The smell of street food pollutes the air as the night vendors take up their stands. Like what we saw in movies, I couldn’t stop thinking to myself, “what did I just get myself into?”; “Is this the rest of my life?”; “I literally have no idea what anyone is saying to me,” and “what the heck is a balut?”

The next three years is a menagerie of events that are both awesome and terrible, but the majority of it all stemmed from one fact. I am an American. I have been called many names as a kid: Americano, alien, outsider, speakening dollar, walang kwenta (useless) and other things of that sort. However, that didn’t stop me from what I knew. I knew that I had to at least do everything I could to get by. That meant dealing with the bullies, the language barrier (to which I later overcame) and the impending fact that life as an adult here isn’t the easiest one. What I’m trying to get at, is my mom was getting old. My grandparents were at that point where retirement was an impending option and their income just barely scratched by the cost of medication. There were four of us: a 3-year-old boy, a 2-year-old girl, a 10-year-old second and myself being the oldest at 11 years old. I’m supposed to be the one with the plan. The money dad sends us from home is slowly getting devoured by the cost of inflation. I thought to myself, “there’s no way I am going to be just like all the other kids … waking up at the crack of dawn to go fish for a day, just to be able to eat for the next two.” No way. Not me.

Cue 2008. I’m sitting on the porch with my mom and we get a phone call. “you wanna come to America?” She tells me it’s my aunt and uncle in Indiana. I had to stop and ask my mother if that was a serious question at the time because kids like me don’t really get those kinds of opportunities. They just don’t happen.

On Aug. 25, 2008, my aunt and uncle flew the two oldest out. “We’re in America,” we thought. Looking back, the most exciting thing we recall ever seeing was a Whopper Jr. off the kid’s menu at a Burger King somewhere in the middle of downtown. After we ate, we found out kids are what they do. They’ve been fostering kids for the past five years when they took us in. Growing up in that household was definitely not something you would guess to be a learning environment. The daily challenges themselves posed an impressive feat alone. My uncle, living off pension and social security, spent the majority of his day waking up, going to the nearby gas station to get coffee, calling the local news anchor a bigot, and taking the foster kids to therapy. My aunt worked as a social worker. She came home every day exhausted, but still always had the means to feed the 13 mouths that would come rushing at the sound of groceries coming in from the trunk. As I mentioned earlier, these kids needed therapy; drug addicts, runaways, domestic violence victims, gang affiliations all ranging from the ages of five to 17. I’ve lived with them all. I’m not saying these kids were bad. Like us, they all just needed a chance.

Which brings me to this — to me, freedom is a chance. It’s a chance for anyone of any age, any background, any nationality to make a difference in either theirs’, or someone else’s lives. Freedom is the chance for a young man or woman, to answer their nation’s call. A call in which a majority of us remain oblivious to answering. It’s the chance to become the nation’s guardian, its sentry, its shield, its sword and its avenger. Freedom is the chance, to allow that young man to serve his country, all while putting food on his family’s table. All while giving his two younger siblings, who were left behind, the opportunity of an education they deserve. All while knowing that his mother can have a good night’s sleep knowing that when she wakes up the next morning, she’ll flip the light switch and the first thing that happens is not darkness, but light. We have been given freedom and we must cherish it. There are those who dare challenge our freedom; ever daring at the right opportunity to take their shot at snatching it. We have the chance, as the next generation of leaders in this great Air Force to make a difference. With integrity, honor, a dedication to providing outstanding service to all others with excellence. We are the ones who give the chance to those who need it. Freedom is us. Aim high Airmen.