8th MXS Airman chosen for Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Staff Sgt. William Willmann, an electrical and environmental aircraft technician assigned to the 8th Maintenance Squadron, began his career with the Air Force when he enlisted in 2012, and has launched and caught heavy aircraft and conducted fighter jet phase inspections, ever since.
Although Willmann’s enlisted career consisted of electrical and environmental aircraft maintenance, his career progression is set to change, due to his selection for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program.
“Commissioning has always been on my mind” said Willmann. “But then, the SLECP program was brought to my attention, which gave me the opportunity to go for it.”
SLECP is a commissioning program which enables designated Air Force senior leaders to directly select enlisted members to commission through officer training school who are highly talented and exhibit exceptional performance.
The program also provides a two-track opportunity; one for enlisted members to pursue their degree while on active duty status (SLECP-A), as well as Airmen who have already acquired their degree to directly commission through OTS (SLECP-O). Willmann fell into the SLECP-O category, as a result of his bachelor’s degree he earned from University of North Texas in 2011.
“Programs like SLECP, Airman Scholarship & Commissioning Program (ASCP) and Officer Training School (OTS) are awesome for our young Airmen and NCO’s to ‘cross over’ to the officer side of the house,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Haley, 8th Maintenance Squadron commander. “SLECP specifically, does not require a board or application, which is, one hell of a deal if you ask me!”
Willmann did have to submit a number of documents within just a week’s time for SLECP, he also had to do an in-person interview with 8th Fighter Wing commander, Col. David Shoemaker.
“My leadership knew that I only had a short period of time to get my paperwork together, so I really had to bust my rump, so that I wouldn’t let this opportunity pass me by,” said Willmann. “It was almost smooth sailing, but I still had to sit with Wolf before my package could go outside of the 8FW.”
Willmann’s leadership notified him that his package was chosen over the two other nominees, but his package still had to go to the 7th Air Force and lastly, Pacific Air Forces.
“I knew William was highly competitive, because I have helped a lot of my Airmen over the last three years as a commander get into various commissioning programs” said Haley. “William’s records, grades, and personal character were all rock-star strong.”
While awaiting to hear about his SLECP-O package, he began to prepare himself for, “What if I’m not selected for the program? What’s next?” He recollected his thoughts from a conversation he had with Lt. Col. Haley.
“It’s been awhile, I haven’t heard anything. I highly doubt I got accepted,” said Willmann to Haley. “I’m going to work towards putting my package in for the next OTS cycle.”
Although Willmann counted himself out, Lt. Col. Haley had a trick up his sleeve.
“I could not have been more proud and excited when Wolf informed me he [Willmann] won at PACAF,” said Haley. “The look on his face when Wolf gave him a ‘Butter Bar’ coin to congratulate him—priceless.”
Although there is no boarding process or application needed for SLECP, make no mistake in assuming that it’s a “cake walk”, said 8th Fighter Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Reiko Meeks. Each MAJCOM is allowed to select one candidate each for a direct slot into SLECP—SSgt Willmann is the 8th Fighter Wing and PACAF’s one.
“I want to be an officer because I believe I have the traits that an effective leader in the Air Force needs to motivate Airmen and manifest mission success,” said Willmann. “I am capable of adapting to those ever-changing situations and making reasonable decisions in the face of adversity.”
Willmann is set to head to Officer Training School in late spring, then to his follow-on assignment to Yokota Air Base, Japan. He is headed right back to the maintenance career field, only now, as an officer.
For more information on commissioning in the Air Force contact your base education office or visit https://www.airforce.com/how-to-join/process/enlisted-to-officer.