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News > Casual lieutenants make huge contributions
Casual lieutenants make huge contributions

Posted 2/6/2009   Updated 2/6/2009 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Sara Csurilla
47th Flying Training Wing public affairs

2/6/2009 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --  -- Every year, nearly 400 brand new officers graduate from Laughlin's intense 52-week Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class and earn their wings.

However, before they get that opportunity, a large majority are placed as casual or transitional students, which means they are waiting for their class to start.

While in casual status, the soon-to-be students are assigned to workplaces around Laughlin to help any way they can and learn about the support side of the Air Force.

Recently, a few lieutenants received recognition for work they've been accomplishing during their stay at the 47th Installation Support Squadron.

"We have about a dozen student lieutenants come through and arguably, all have
truly worked hard. Everything from airfield waivers to environmental permits to mapping communication lines and even great squadron executive work, "said said Lt. Col. John Enyeart, 47th ISS commander. "Although, there has been one key officer that has really shined above the rest, 2nd Lt. John Thompson."

Lieutenant Thompson, a casual lieutenant assigned to the 47th ISS, has been with the ISS for about five months and he has been the sole coordinator and "go to" guy on several projects that he volunteered for, said Sharon Moore, 47th ISS programs flight chief.

"He stepped up to be the project manager of a construction project we had on the flight line when our regular project manager was not available, thus keeping a $6 million project on track," said Colonel Enyeart.

Not only did he help the 47th ISS stay the course, but he was also very eager to help with much more, said Colonel Enyeart. But his prior experience with construction was a key asset.

"When we thought our entire construction project might cause traffic flow problems, he fixed the problem quickly and it only cost us a few buckets of paint," said Colonel Enyeart. Lieutenant Thompson devised a well-researched plan to restripe the vehicle lanes along the apron, which he briefed to Col. John Doucette, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, for approval. "I don't know what we would have done the last couple months without him; he has truly been asset to our team." 

Lieutenant Thompson said he knew he was there to help but never thought he would have so many opportunities to make a difference.

"It feels really good to know I could help while I was in casual status," he said. "I've had a lot of fun at the 47th ISS and a lot of chances to learn new things. I can't wait to see what else the Air Force has in store for me."

Along with Lieutenant Thompson, another officer in casual status was also noted for using their engineering skills with the 47th ISS.

Ms. Moore said among many other projects, 2nd Lt. Thomas Laliberte fixed a problem that has been on-going for more than a year. He ensured repair of a dormitory plumbing problem by photographing every single piece of plumbing and then redesigned the pipe flow. This repair fixed every leak in the 150-room dormitory quickly, saving the 47th ISS thousands of dollars for investigation and design.

"Regardless of the fact that these officers are here to earn their wings, they have helped us tremendously by applying the skills and education they already have," said Colonel Enyeart. "The caliber of character and education these Lieutenants have brought to us has truly been amazing; I anticipate many good things for them when they have to leave us."

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