Wisdom from an ALS commandant

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Lonnie Carter, the commandant of the Chief Master Sgt. Aubert E. Dozier Airman Leadership School (ALS), pauses for a photo in front of legacy plaques at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., July 7, 2017. Carter has served as the MacDill ALS Commandant for four years and is retiring after 20 years of service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mariette Adams)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Lonnie Carter, the commandant of the Chief Master Sgt. Aubert E. Dozier Airman Leadership School (ALS), pauses for a photo in front of legacy plaques at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., July 7, 2017. Carter has served as the MacDill ALS Commandant for four years and is retiring after 20 years of service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mariette Adams)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- As Airmen progress through their careers, they are required to attend Professional Military Education courses. 

These courses prepare Airmen for enhanced responsibilities and leadership roles.

For Master Sgt. Lonnie Carter, the outgoing commandant of the Chief Master Sgt. Aubert E. Dozier Airman Leadership School here, the ALS PME course has brought him both joy and challenges that have impacted him both as an Airman and senior non-commissioned officer.

His career has taken him around the country and through a range of assignments, to include team member of the combat skills training course and instructor for vehicle operations technical training.

It has been four years since Carter applied to be the ALS commandant at MacDill and over through the years he has led seven classes, a year with each course needing an average of 1,700 tasks completed by the commandant and instructors.

Through this challenging course, Carter said he has grown and learned valuable lessons.

“I learned that PME is more important than any of us truly give it credit for,” said Carter. “Airmen Leadership School has changed my perspective on the Air Force. I appreciate the Air Force much more than I did before.”

As he prepares to leave the ALS school house here to retire from the Air Force, Carter now reflects on his experience in the military and the lessons he helped pass along.

“Own your work center and conduct business the way you would in your own household,” explained Carter. “Don’t be a renter who is always waiting for someone else to do the menial tasks, like waiting for the landlord to fix a broken appliance, because it’s not yours. Be an owner who takes pride in how your house [work center] looks, functions, feels and how people treat it.”

As a result of putting in the time and care, Carter has demonstrated true excellence in all that he does, an Air Force core value.

“Make the changes that you know need to be made. If you can’t change it, request that your Home Owners Association (squadron leadership) change it. Fight for change that adds value to your house, not just what you’d like to see or every good idea that comes along.”

The course has not only impacted him, he has made a lasting impression on the course and the students who have taken it.

“He has shown the Airmen how to take pride and ownership in their work,” said Master Sgt. Matthew Orlando, the incoming commandant of ALS at MacDill. “He has showcased the wing and its mission partners by naming each of the flight rooms after a particular mission we have on MacDill. He decorated them with items that showcase their mission and show Airmen how each and every one of them is important to supporting the Air Force mission.”