Two Robins Airmen receive STEP promotions

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Evan Lagasse
  • 78th ABW/PA
Two enlisted Airmen at Robins were recently rewarded for career-long superior performance when they received on-the-spot promotions through the Stripes for Exceptional Performers program.

Tech. Sgt. Darryl Rios-Maldonado, 653rd Combat Logistics Support Squadron depot aircraft structural maintainer, and Staff Sgt. Vanessa Pressley, 78th Civil Engineer Group commander support staff assistant, were promoted to master sergeant and technical sergeant respectively.

The STEP program is a highly visible promotion recognition program used by commanders at all levels to recognize the outstanding contributions and accomplishments of senior airmen, staff sergeants and technical sergeants who work hard and are clearly a "cut above the rest."

"The STEP promotion program is for individuals who have exceeded the common day to day work schedule. They go above and beyond to make sure the mission is done no matter what the sacrifice," said Capt. Eric Brown, 78th CEG section commander.

This year, Maj. Gen. Tom Owen, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center commander, had STEP allocations to promote one technical sergeant to master sergeant and either one staff sergeant to technical sergeant or one senior airman to staff sergeant.

Each wing commander had the opportunity to submit one Airman in each of the three categories. Once all submissions were in, the ALC commander, vice commander and 78th Air Base Wing command chief master sergeant reviewed the nominations and made their final selections.

Keeping with STEP promotion tradition, General Owen surprised Sergeant Rios-Maldonado with his sixth stripe at an impromptu commander's call with members of the 653rd CLSS.

"General Owen was doing a question and answer session with some of us. I asked him a question and while he was answering, he was including a lot of things I've accomplished in the (ALC over the past couple of years) and then he said, 'as a matter of fact, Sergeant Rios, your name has been mentioned and I have something here for you. Come on up.' So I went up to the front and when he opened the certificate, out jumped these stripes," Sergeant Rios-Maldonado said.

In similar fashion, General Owen stunned Sergeant Pressley with her fifth stripe while fielding a staged question from Captain Brown at a group award ceremony.

When Captain Brown asked General Owen about the future of the CEG commander support staff, General Owen deferred to Sergeant Pressley saying, "As a staff sergeant, you should know what's going on but as a tech sergeant, you should know even more. From this point on, from this minute on, you're a tech sergeant."

It caught Sergeant Pressley by complete surprise. "She was just looking in space like she didn't know what was going on. I don't think reality hit her until the general and I pinned the stripes on her," said Capt. Brown.

For Sergeant Pressley, this promotion has taken longer to sink in than promotions past. "Right now I'm still in shock. It's been over a week but it hasn't really set in yet."

While personal accomplishments are considered during the STEP process, nominated Airmen are largely viewed through the whole person concept. STEP recipients do not earn an extra stripe simply for what they've done in the past but because they show a promising future as an Airman in the "world's greatest Air and Space Force."

"Sergeant Rios-Maldonado is an outstanding Airman. It's not about him; it's about what he can do for the Air Force and what knowledge base he brings in to give to the younger Airmen through mentoring and doing his everyday supervisory responsibilities," said Master Sgt. Thomas Helm, 653rd CLSS depot aircraft structural maintenance section chief.

Although Sergeants Rios-Maldonado and Pressley have each earned an extra stripe, they readily acknowledge the hard work of their fellow Airmen, civilians and contractors who help carry out the Robins mission each and every day.