Air Force Featured Stories

SECAF surprises 17th Training Wing Airman with SLECP selection

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jermaine Ayers
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall surprised Staff Sgt. Samuel Cervantez, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Office of Emergency Management noncommissioned officer in charge of plans and operations, with the news of selection for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program, Jan. 11, via Zoom conference with 17th Training Wing leadership.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Samuel Cervantez, 17th Civil Engineer non-commissioned officer in charge of plans and operations for the Office of Emergency Management, poses for an official photo on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, July 27, 2021. Cervantez will attend the University of Oklahoma for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program. He will then go to Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. for Officer Training School. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jermaine Ayers)

Staff Sgt. Samuel Cervantez, 17th Civil Engineer noncommissioned officer in charge of plans and operations for the Office of Emergency Management, poses for an official photo on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, July 27, 2021. Cervantez was selected for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program and will attend the University of Oklahoma for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program. He will then go to Maxwell AFB, Ala. for Officer Training School. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jermaine Ayers)


SLECP allows senior leaders to directly grant enlisted members who demonstrate exceptional leadership and performance skills a commissioning opportunity via Officer Training School.

“It was a very close contest, but you did very well and you should be proud of yourself,” Kendall said. “Good luck to you and congratulations again.”

Cervantez was hand-picked by Kendall for the program and was personally congratulated upon notification of his selection.

During his meeting with Kendall, Cervantez said, “I am extremely grateful for this opportunity, it’s an honor, and thank you for choosing me.”

The program Cervantez was selected for allows him to attend college for his bachelor’s degree while staying on active-duty orders.

“Staff Sgt. Cervantez has always been an outstanding troop,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Higgins, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. “I think he will do a fantastic job as an officer.”

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Samuel Cervantez, 17th Civil Engineer non-commissioned officer in charge of plans and operations for the Office of Emergency Management, Col. Matthew Reilman, 17th Training Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Rebecca Arbona, 17th TRW command chief, participate in a teleconference with Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 11, 2022. The Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program allows senior leaders to directly grant enlisted members an opportunity to commission through Officer Training School after showing leadership skills and exceptional performance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jermaine Ayers)

Chief Master Sgt. Rebecca Arbona, 17th TRW command chief, Col. Matthew Reilman, 17th Training Wing commander and Staff Sgt. Samuel Cervantez, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Office of Emergency Management noncommissioned officer in charge of plans and operations, participate in a teleconference with Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 11, 2022. Cervantez was selected by Kendall for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program which allows senior leaders to directly grant enlisted members an opportunity to commission through Officer Training School after showing leadership skills and exceptional performance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jermaine Ayers)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall congratulates U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Samuel Cervantez, 17th Civil Engineer non-commissioned officer in charge of plans and operations for the Office of Emergency Management, via zoom call on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 11, 2022. Cervantez was hand-picked by Kendall for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program and was personally congratulated upon notification of his selection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jermaine Ayers

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall congratulates Staff Sgt. Samuel Cervantez, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron Office of Emergency Management noncommissioned officer in charge of plans and operations, via zoom call on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 11, 2022. Cervantez was hand-picked by Kendall for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program and was personally congratulated upon notification of his selection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Sarah Williams)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Samuel Cervantez, 17th Civil Engineer non-commissioned officer in charge of plans and operations for the Office of Emergency Management, Col. Matthew Reilman, 17th Training Wing commander and Chief Master Sgt. Rebecca Arbona, 17th TRW command chief, participate in a teleconference with  Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 11, 2022. Cervantez was selected for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program, which will allow him to go to school for his bachelor’s degree while staying on active duty orders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jermaine Ayers)

Staff Sgt. Samuel Cervantez, 17th Civil Engineer non-commissioned officer in charge of plans and operations for the Office of Emergency Management, Col. Matthew Reilman, 17th Training Wing commander and Chief Master Sgt. Rebecca Arbona, 17th TRW command chief, participate in a teleconference with Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 11, 2022. Cervantez was selected for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program, which will allow him to go to school for his bachelor’s degree while staying on active-duty orders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jermaine Ayers)


Cervantez’s main goal is to become an intelligence officer. He will attend the University of Oklahoma, and major in International Security Studies for the next two years, completing the requirements for his bachelor’s degree.

“I am originally from Tulsa,” Cervantez said. “I chose the University of Oklahoma, so I could have the opportunity to be closer to home and spend more time with family.”

After Cervantez finishes his degree, he will then go to
Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama for OTS.

If selected to be an intelligence officer, his Air Force journey could lead him back to Goodfellow AFB for technical training.

“This opportunity is everything that I have hoped for,” Cervantez said. “I plan on making this a career for the next 20 to 30 years.”