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6th OG Airman wins Levitow award at Gunter NCO Academy

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Scott Warner
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The John L. Levitow award is the highest award an enlisted Airman can receive during a professional military education class at the Noncommissioned Officer Academy (NCOA) at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.

It is presented to the student who demonstrates the most outstanding leadership and academic achievements during the course.

Tech. Sgt. Alexander Orr, the 6th Operations Group NCOIC of standardization and evaluation, was the recipient of the Levitow leadership award during his NCOA class held earlier this year.

"This award is not won without being in a phenomenal group, “ said Orr. “I wish we were all able to split that award after all the work each of us did. I also want to thank my peers in the other classes for their insight and making it such a great time.”

“NCOA is definitely a challenge because you have to be able to use time management to ensure you are prioritizing study time and completing the assignments,” said Orr. “The papers and presentation requirements are held to strict requirements, but the multiple group assignments and class presentations were simultaneously fun, yet difficult.”

Although the course was difficult, Orr was presented with the Levitow award for his stellar performances throughout NCOA. However, Orr had a chance to obtain a Levitow award before and fell short.

While attending Airman Leadership School (ALS) back in 2017, Orr was late on one assignment, which counted as a failure and completely disqualified him from being considered for the prestigious Levitow award.

“You always want to do your best to succeed so when I missed an assignment deadline at ALS, I was really upset in myself,” said Orr. “I was determined at NCOA to not make that same mistake again.”

The Levitow award wasn’t the reason why he made change, but Orr just ultimately wanted to be a better Airman and person than he was before. So the change was necessary.

“I knew I was better than that,” said Orr.

Orr explained that you cannot be noticed without being surrounded by a phenomenal group of people. Although he received the highest professional military education honor in the Levitow award, his road to success was different, and in some ways, more difficult than some of his peers.

“I took the inadvisable choice of completing my final college class for my bachelor’s degree while attending NCOA,” said Orr. “We all had the adversity of the family, work, and COVID issues outside of NCOA, but we had to do our best to tune these out to be successful.”

Orr joined the Air Force when was 19 years old back in December 2011. He is oldest of three siblings from his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina.

“I never thought I’d be here, never thought about winning awards, I just joined the Air Force to break up the monotony that comes with staying in the same place for too long,” said Orr. “I use to work at Wal-Mart and I didn’t want to become that guy who worked there for years and years on end. I knew I wanted to get out of Charleston to try new things and to go to news places and the Air Force checked a lot of boxes for me.”

Orr has always been a team player, whether from being on his track and cross country teams in high school to coaching and being part of his squadron intermural basketball, softball and soccer sports teams at Altus AFB, Oklahoma.

Being a part of a team comes naturally to him, and out of the six flights at NCOA, Orr was assigned to Bravo Flight, which had more than one heavy hitter on their team.

“Bravo Flight’s cohesiveness was what made me most proud of my time at NCOA,” said Orr. “We all came from different backgrounds, but instantly bonded, and our flight had someone also win the ‘Commandant’s Award’ for being a great leader, which further enhanced our class dynamic.”

Great teams never just have one outstanding player because even the great Chicago Bulls basketball dynasty of the 1990s with star and hall of famer, Michael Jordan, never won a NBA championship without fellow teammate and hall of famer, Scottie Pippin.

Bravo Flight had team chemistry, shared the same vision and they had the right team players, which resulted in them receiving the Commandant’s Cup as the best performing flight from NCOA’s physical training assessments.

Yet, for those who know Orr, know he has stood out amongst his peers long before he attended NCOA.

“Tech. Sgt. Orr has reached the pinnacle of excellence as a boom operator,” said Chief Master Sgt. Lee Adkins, the 6th OG operations superintendent. “He is the ops group standardization and evaluation NCOIC, a position that is normally filled by a senior master sergeant and the reason he is in that position is that he has earned the respect of not only his leadership but also of his peers.”

After returning from NCOA, Orr picked up where he left off, already making an impact at his squadron.

“I am hoping to use my skills to work with others, just like at NCOA, especially since MacDill has been working its way to focusing more on near-peer threats,” said Orr. “It will take everyone to know how they contribute to the mission for us to continue being a lethal force.”

Orr is a difference-maker and although some people think it takes a lot to be great, it can simply be attributed to doing the simple things greatly that matter the most.

“Alex comes into work every day, ready to make a difference for the operations group, and the 6th Air Refueling Wing, and he seems to do it so effortlessly,” said Adkins. “He is no doubt in my mind one of the hardest working individuals I have seen in almost 25 years of service.”