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Second annual Lead-a-Thon: Breathing fire

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kurstyn Canida
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

The 81st Training Wing hosted LEAD-a-Thon, a two-day leadership and personal development event, April 18-19.

The event, hosted by Dragon University, is a deliberate focus by the wing on leadership, personal growth, and developing a warrior mindset.

The first day of the event featured multiple breakout sessions highlighting key topics, such as Great Power Competition, leadership for military and civilians, and family relationships with a spouse and partner session. The day ended with a ceremony where attendees received a Dragon University patch.

LEAD-a-Thon participants engaged in a variety of discussions with Col. Omar A. Velasco, 67th Cyberspace Wing deputy commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Y. Bogdan, Headquarters Air Force chief of enlisted force development.

Col. Billy E. Pope, Jr. 81st Training Wing commander, gave opening remarks.

“I think Dragon University creates leaders that create leaders, and that’s something that’s special to me,” Pope expressed. “This is all about motivating 200 people in this room, but more importantly it’s the second order effect that people are going to take out into their work centers and environments.”

The addition of a second day, where Airmen were able to demonstrate their physical and mental strength through a variety of challenges, was new this year.

“We split this up to where we’re talking leadership, great power competition, while also giving a little bit of love to our families,” said Chief Master Sgt. Ron Oudean, 81st Mission Support Group senior enlisted leader. “Day two, Warrior Day, was something we’ve never done that allowed us to focus on developing warrior ethos and skills.”

Day two gave 30 individuals the opportunity to showcase a warrior mindset through a gamut of physical and mental activities. Moving tactically in groups to “shoot, move, communicate”, participants learned different defensive maneuvers and sparring moves. At the end of the event Airmen were awarded a Dragon University Warrior patch, the third level in the professional development incentive program.

Airmen left this year’s LEAD-a-thon event more able to recognize where they fit into the future of the force.

“As a leader, the thing I look for is inspiration and empowering these men and women to recognize that no matter what rank, no matter what your position is, in our Air Force you are a leader,” said Oudean. “When people think of Keesler Air Force Base, and how we’re getting after Great Power Competition, how we’re developing our future leaders and taking care of our families, I want there to be no doubt that we’re getting after it.”