Kansas leadership team reviews Air Force graduates

Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, Kansas adjutant general, and Chief Master Sgt. Maurice Williams, Kansas National Guard command senior enlisted leader, made history when they became the first National Guard joint reviewing team for an Air Force Basic Military Training graduation at Lackland Air Force Base on Sept. 28, 2018.

Command Chief Master Sgt. Maurice Williams, Joint Forces Headquarters Kansas, address graduates of the Basic Military Training class at Lackland Air Force Base Sept. 28.

Tafanelli, whose son Nicholas was among the graduates, was contacted by John Sieh, Lackland Air Force Base chief of protocol, to ask if he would be able to participate in the ceremony as the reviewing officer. At the graduation, Tafanelli became the first U.S. Army general officer to hold the honor.

“The joint force leadership team set the bar high for future teams,” said Air Force Col. Jason Janaros, commander of the 37th Training Wing.

Historically, wing commanders and generals in the Air Force or basic military training commanders have the responsibility of the reviewing officials. Janaros wants to expand to the other service branches when it comes to those duties.

“They truly reflected the way our Armed Forces operates and fights today, as a joint force,” Janaros said. “We look forward to continually involving our sister services leadership teams to participate in our Air Force Basic Military Training Parades.”

Williams was asked to join Tafanelli to be the guest speaker for the event. Williams was pleased to have the opportunity to speak to the graduates.

“It showed a true joint presence to have representatives of both the Army and Air National Guard included in the ceremony,” said Williams.

While speaking to the graduates, Williams focused on three areas to help them throughout their careers.

“Invest in yourself – you need to continue your education to keep growing as an individual and as a leader,” said Williams. “Monitor your circle by keeping quality peers. And embrace life’s journey – there will always be bumps in the road, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. Keep moving forward.”

“To have my father review the graduation and to have Chief Williams there to give an incredible speech will be something I will never forget,” said Airman 1st Class Nicholas Tafanelli. “I know it was a big deal for the National Guard and the state of Kansas, but to have my dad be the first one outside of the Air Force to be the reviewing officer was amazing.”

Nicholas, who is training in fire protection at Technical School in Texas, chose to join the Air Guard because he wants to the best firefighter he can be and bring his military training into his civilian career. He also wants to become a great leader and says the Air Force is where he wants to learn and serve.

“I know that the training I am getting is the best in the world,” said Nicholas. “And, at the end of the day, I really want to serve my country and state.”