By Capt. Peter Shinn
OTS Squadron commander
The first and only female military training instructor in the Air National Guard is also the first and only Air National Guard member to be named the Air University Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
Tech. Sgt. Leslie Cummings is an MTI for the Academy of Military Science, the Air Force Officer Training School commissioning program for Air National Guard members.
“It’s awesome, and I really appreciate it, but it’s really about just doing your job to the best of your ability and maximizing your contribution to the team,” Cummings said of winning the award for 2012. “I’m very fortunate to work with such a great group of professionals.”
AMS Commander Lt. Col. Reid Rasmussen described Cummings as a “top-notch professional,” and said he was not surprised to learn she won award.
“AMS and OTS are fortunate to have people like Leslie,” Rasmussen said. “I’m constantly amazed at not only her job performance but everything she’s done for Maxwell, as well.”
Cummings’ contributions to the Maxwell-Gunter community include founding Airmen Against Drunk Driving, known locally as A2D2, which has virtually eliminated drinking and driving incidents among military personnel here. She also is a founding member of the Guard and Reserve Network, or GARNET, an organization that enhances the skills and civilian employment opportunities of Reserve component members.
The Air National Guard advisor to the commander and president of the Air University praised Cummings as an “outstanding Citizen-Airmen” and a premier example of the total force concept.
“Sergeant Cummings is quite simply one of the Guard’s very best leaders,” said Col. Edward Vaughan, who is also the founder of GARNET. “Her selection as AU’s NCO of the year shows that she’s one of the very best leaders across the total force as well.”
Cummings, who is currently serving on extended active duty, is a member of the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing, located at Channel Islands.
The wing’s commander, Col. Paul Hargrove, congratulated Cummings on her achievement.
“Every member of the 146th Airlift Wing and I are proud of Leslie’s accomplishments,” Hargrove said. “We’re looking forward to her return to the unit.”
Though Cummings is the first Air National Guard MTI and first Guard member to be selected for the award, she said she doesn’t see herself as a pioneer.
“I really don’t think of myself as a trailblazer,” Cummings said. “I’ve just been given great opportunities that I’ve tried to maximize as best I could, because I believe every opportunity you’re given is an opportunity to set yourself apart in a positive way.”