Outstanding Creech Airmen earn STEP promotion to Technical Sergeant

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kristan Campbell
  • 432nd Wing/ 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Under the Air Force's Stripes for Exceptional Performers program the 12th Air Force was given five technical sergeant stripes to reward deserving Airmen, two of those went to Creech Air Force Base members.

Tech. Sgt. Leonel, 15th Reconnaissance Squadron instructor sensor operator and Tech. Sgt. Latoya, 30th Reconnaissance Squadron links manager received their stripes under the STEP programĀ  Jan. 28 and Jan. 29, 2016 at Creech AFB.

According to Air Force Instruction 36-2503, "the STEP program supplements existing Airmen promotion programs and is designed to accommodate unique circumstances that, in the commander's judgment, clearly warrant promotion."

"I've never really looked at progression based on how well you score on a test," Leonel said. "I've just tried to give back to the Air Force what it has given to me."

Leonel grew up in the Caribbean Islands and later came to the U.S., where he became involved with the Civil Air Patrol. His passion for being a leader and a mentor grew his love for the Air Force, and led to his enlistment shortly after.

Master Sgt. Mollie, 15th RS instructor sensor operator, Leonel's supervisor, said she can expect him to go above and beyond what is expected of him every day.

"Leonel is the go-to-guy," said Mollie. "His actions speak louder than his words do, and everybody he works with knows that any project he is put in charge of will come out amazing every time. He's an outstanding troop."

Throughout his career, Leonel has gone on several deployments and often worked 12 hour shifts, six days a week to make sure tasks were carried out effectively. His diligence and readiness to tackle any task are traits that made him a STEP promotee of choice.

"After getting pinned on, my wife, Shelly, was the first person I wanted to talk to," said Leonel. "Right after it happened, we were talking on the phone and both of us broke down crying, because she knew how much it meant to me, how much it meant to us as a family."

Leonel's promotion is a testament of his dedication as an Airman.

Latoya, the second promotee, grew up in Hampton, Virginia, and enlisted in the Air Force right after graduating high school to make her family proud. She contributes her success to them, as well as her leadership, coworkers and, most importantly, her faith.

"My faith governs my character, behavior and morals," Latoya said. "Without it I believe my career thus far would have been much more difficult."

Along with other squadron leadership, Master Sgt. Sellaci, 30th RS assistant flight chief for B-Flight, selected Latoya due to her strong character and ability to perform as an Airman.

"She's on top of things that even I forget," Sellaci said.

Latoya went on to say that among many challenges she has faced, her most difficult one has been serving the Air Force as a single parent. By leaning on her family and pursuing her goals, she has been able to overcome it. She said she would not be where she is today without the support of her leadership and co-workers.

"I'm still in shock and I could not be the Airman I am today without the help of every single person I have encountered throughout my career," Latoya said.