First-ever LEO attends MacDill Airman Leadership School

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Adam R. Shanks
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Looking at Airman Leadership School’s Class 20A at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, one would see many bright-eyed faces. Uniforms are crisp and serviceable. Personal appearance is sharp and presentable. They’re displaying themselves as the new front-line supervisors they are soon to become, once they’ve broken into the NCO tier.

But one man in attendance stands out from the rest.

He has a uniform complete with a nametape and chevrons on his sleeve, but the left side of his chest reads: Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Cpl. Tommy Herr, the first-ever law enforcement officer to attend the Chief Master Sgt. Aubert E. Dozier Airman Leadership School at MacDill, joined Class 20A to offer his perspective while also gaining knowledge from professional military education.

“As an HCSO first-line supervisor, it was an absolute honor to have been given the opportunity to attend ALS at MacDill,” said Herr. “Throughout my experience, I was welcomed and encouraged by all levels of Air Force command.”

Master Sgt. Matthew Orlando, the ALS commandant at MacDill AFB, was one of the leaders that encouraged Herr to join.

“It was fantastic to have Cpl. Herr join our class and the program,” remarked Orlando. “He already had around 15 years of experience and he really brought a different perspective that enhanced the course.”

Orlando explained that he’s been working to invite local Tampa agencies to send a person to ALS, and Herr happened to be the first.

“It was an easy sell; what we’re teaching poses a huge value to Airmen, but to a law enforcement supervisor as well,” said Orlando. “I’m trying to create a total force aspect of our class, so having active duty, guard, reserve joint partners such as the U.S. Navy or U.S. Coast Guard and local law enforcement builds upon our community partnership.”

Although he had zero military experience beforehand, the way ALS is structured allows soon-to-be supervisors to gain the proper knowledge to lead others, no matter what uniform they wear.

“I enjoy attending different leadership classes and learning new perspectives to help continue my leadership development,” said Herr. “ALS was suggested by members of my training division and they indicated that it would be a rewarding, yet challenging experience.”

During class discussions, Air Force culture and core values were talked about extensively. Despite Herr not being an Airman himself, he was still able to take in the ideations of military service.

“I’ve worked to become a Florida Law Enforcement instructor, and overall I was impressed with the course’s structure and implementation,” said Herr. “The course promoted the development and retention of information and tactics that were taught during instructor-led discussions.”

Herr explained that one thing that stood out to him most during his time in ALS, was the professionalism and respect that everyone displayed towards one another.

“During our physical training, everyone worked together and encouraged each other to excel,” said Herr. “ALS did an excellent job of encouraging teamwork and healthy competition within both flights of students.”

ALS physical training has the reputation of being intense, but friendly competition came in forms of “gatorball” and volleyball.

“I enjoyed playing those, especially because we won,” laughed Herr. “But my final highlight of the course was graduation, what an electrifying crowd and experience.”

After 192 hours of training in ALS, Herr graduated with 27 other service members and even earned the school’s only Commandant Award.

“Herr performed with the tenacity and tact of a great supervisor during his time with us,” added Orlando. “No matter what uniform he wears, I’m confident in his ability to lead and mentor his fellow law enforcement officers, and even Airmen.”