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News > Deployed Holloman warriors surprised with STEP promotion
Deployed Holloman warriors surprised with STEP promotion

Posted 12/6/2012   Updated 12/6/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Siuta B. Ika
49th Wing Public Affairs

12/6/2012 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Two Team Holloman members who are currently deployed to Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan received news Dec. 4 that under the Air Force's Stripes for Exceptional Performers program, they were to be immediately promoted to master and technical sergeant.

For Tech. Sgt. Amanda Jones and Staff Sgt. Joseph Sapikowski, the notification of their promotions were a complete surprise - to them and their families.

"I got a call from Chief Patrie earlier today and he asked me if I wanted to be part of a teleconference," said Gwen Beverly, Jones' mother. "He and (Col. Andrew Croft, 49th Wing commander) picked me up at the front gate, and on the way, Col. Croft was telling me about the ruse they were planning, and Chief Patrie had to stop him and say, 'Time out, she doesn't know about the promotion,' so I found out about her promotion on the ride from the gate about 15 minutes before we called her."

The plan, devised by Croft and Patrie, was to make both Jones and Sapikowski think that they were in trouble for separate incidents back at Holloman AFB.

"We've got a serious complaint from a customer who wants to have a talk with you to try and put this (network control center) issue to rest as quickly as we can, so ma'am go ahead with your complaint," Croft said over speakerphone.

With Jones waiting for the impending complainer, her mother couldn't help but smile.

"Amanda, it's your mom," Beverly said. "There are 20 people here that want to know why you're out of uniform."

After a brief pause, Croft spoke to Jones again.

"Tech. Sgt. Jones," the wing commander said. "Effective immediately, you are now a master sergeant in the Air Force."

After Croft gave Jones the news, the wing conference room erupted in applause as Jones burst into a jubilant hysteria. After the new master sergeant gathered herself, she thanked everyone in attendance before hanging up the phone.

Next up was Sapikowski. Like Beverly, Sapikowski's wife, Staff Sgt. Angela Sapikowski, 49th Force Support Squadron, was also kept in the dark until arriving in the wing conference room, just minutes before contacting the two STEP promotion recipients.

"Staff Sgt. Sapikowski," Croft said. "I've heard that there's been some problems with the SRT team since it stood up ... Apparently this happened a little while ago but I've just been briefed on it. We've got a complainant here and she wants to address a couple of issues."

Like Jones, Sapikowski remained silent on the other side of the phone line.

"Hi honey, this is your wife and about 20 people here want to know why you're out of uniform," Angela Sapikowski said.

After Croft informed Sapikowski that he was now a technical sergeant, his wife spoke to him again.

"This is going to be a good Christmas," she said. "I'm so proud of you. You really deserve it."

After Sapikowski thanked everyone and hung up the phone, Croft spoke to all of the commanders, first sergeants, and family members in attendance.

"This is the first time that I've ever been involved in a STEP promotion as a commander," Croft said. "I want to thank you all for coming here, because this lets them know what they did is important and we care about them."

Croft also spoke about the significance of being STEP promoted.

"I think one of the most important things is that this only happens to a very small percentage of Airmen," he said. "Our base only gets two per year out of the 3,300 or so, so we're talking about well less than one percent. And the fact that the two folks that got STEP promoted in our wing are both deployed shows that some of our best Airmen and hardest workers are down range. They absolutely deserve this honor and their Holloman family congratulates them."

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