Wing commander surprises Altus NCOs

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Sybil Taunton
  • 97 Air Mobility Wing/Public Affairs
"I was honestly terrified. I was on leave and the wing commander was on the phone telling me he had just gotten off the phone with General Lorenz about the fact that Altus was missing something that was supposed to be in my office," said Technical Sgt. Aaron Widener, 54th Air Refueling Squadron.

After a moment of panic, wondering what could possibly be missing, Sergeant Widener was relieved to hear Col. Jon Thomas, 97th Air Mobility Wing commander, inform him that what was missing from his office was a technical sergeant and that he had been selected for a Stripes for Exceptional Performers promotion.

"It still hasn't really sunk in yet," Sergeant Widener said, "I'm on cloud nine."

STEP promotions give commanders the opportunity to recognize the hard work and accomplishments of their Airmen by promoting them, on the spot, to the ranks of staff sergeant, technical sergeant and master sergeant.

Along with Sergeant Widener, Tech. Sgt. Peter Rollins, 97th Air Mobility Wing Equal Opportunities Office, was also selected for a STEP promotion.

"I was in an office staff meeting when my boss told me I had to go to legal to discuss a case," Sergeant Rollins said. "When I got out to the hallway, Colonel Thomas and Chief Molloy came around the corner and presented me with my new rank in front of everyone. They had gone around to all of the offices in the building and asked them to gather around for the surprise. It was honestly a blessing, and I feel honored."

The promotion to technical sergeant was long awaited by both Widener and Rollins. Sergeant Widener tested four times prior to his STEP promotion and Sergeant Rollins tested five times, coming up short by only one point on his last attempt. Even after the four or five attempts, they never gave up, and their hard work and positive attitudes did not go unnoticed.

Command Chief Master Sgt. Eric Molloy, 97th Air Mobility Wing, offered some insight on what it takes to get selected for a STEP promotion, and what set Sergeants Widener and Rollins apart from the other nominees.

"They are both superstars. Their work sets them apart from their peers," Chief Molloy said. "Additionally, they both have wing impact, they are involved outside their duty sections and squadrons; both are immersed in the community. The icing on the cake was their efforts at self-improvement, formal and informal. Both epitomize the whole person concept which, to me, is key in any recognition without specific qualifiers.

"Any section, squadron or group should feel pride and a sense of success when an individual within that unit is selected. Personnel can see first hand the importance of hard work and demonstrating a positive attitude," the chief added. "I challenge all supervisors to recognize their deserving personnel and drive up the level of competition; it breeds success."