DFPC members attend the National Character and Leadership Symposium (NCLS)




On February 23-24, Paul Rodriguez, Dave Vitwar and Matt O’Leary joined Air Force cadets, firefighters and first responders from around the state at the 24th Annual National Character and Leadership Symposium (NCLS) at the United States Air Force Academy.


The annual NCLS is one of the premier national symposia in the field of character and leadership, bringing together distinguished scholars, military leaders, corporate leaders, world-class athletes, and others to explore a character-related theme based on the United States Air Forces Academy Outcomes. This two-day symposium provides an opportunity for all Academy personnel, visiting university students and faculty, and community members to experience dynamic speakers and take part in group discussions to enhance their own understanding of the importance of sound moral character and good leadership.


“NCLS speakers not only challenge, but inspire the listener to do great things,” Paul Rodriguez said.


The Air Force Academy fosters development of a "warrior ethos" that springs from commitment to the Air Force Core Values.  These values are deeply interwoven in what it means to be an Airman in the profession of arms.  They suggest that a warrior must reflect: Integrity, a foundation of trust and sine qua non in sustaining teams under stress; Service, a commitment to professional duty ahead of personal desire; and Excellence, reflected in continuous honing of physical, mental and professional skills, increased real capability, and high performance in the face of complex and dynamic challenges.


Above and beyond these essential building blocks, warriors exhibit the discipline to adhere to professional standards, grit and persistence in the face of hardships, and moral and physical courage despite professional or personal risk.


“It’s motivating to hear Ms. Heather “Lucky” Penny’s mindset as she spoke of leadership, courage and sacrifice when she answered the call on 9/11 to prepare her weaponless F-16 fighter jet to ram into Flight 93 in order to protect our nation’s capital,” says Matt O’Leary.  


Author: Matt O'Leary, Wildland Fire Logistics Branch Chief
Contributor: David Vitwar, Branch Chief of Operations