NEWS | May 29, 2020

Virtual promotion ceremony celebrates achievements in one JBSA-Lackland cyber security division

By Rachel Kersey 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

In the midst of advised social distancing, to minimize the spread of COVID-19, service members at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland continued with a time-honored tradition of holding a promotion ceremony. The catch? They did it virtually. Three enlisted Airmen were promoted April 30 in a live streamed ceremony that drew an audience of colleagues and family members from across the nation.

“Although we are living in very challenging and uncertain times, our Air Force remains strong,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Schmidt, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, and Networks at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts. “We are strong because of great men and women like those I have the honor of promoting.”

The three members who were promoted were Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Podobinski, Tech Sgt. John A. Pearson and Staff Sgt. Katelyn A. Shuttle. They are all part of the Cryptologic and Cyber Systems Division at JBSA-Lackland, under Schmidt’s directorate. 

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a drastic challenge for the division to celebrate its promotees,” said 1st Lt. Enrique Garcia, executive officer of CCSD. “To help build morale and maintain our Air Force Heritage, Maj. Gen. Schmidt and Col. Alan Carreiro have teamed up to host the promotion virtually for the division.” 

Podbinski has served the United States for more than 22 years at eight different bases. He has won many awards during his tenure in the Air Force, including Staff Sergeant of the Year. He now serves as the Signals Intelligence Maintenance section chief.

Pearson has been in the Air Force for eight years, building and maintaining unclassified and classified networks worldwide. He has earned the Gen. Edwin Rawling's Award for Excellence in Information Technology Systems and works in the Space COMSEC branch.

Shuttle’s first duty station is JBSA-Lackland and in her short time in the Air Force, she has accomplished much. While in technical school at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Shuttle distinguished herself as a leader from the start. She was selected for promotion and earned the rank of staff sergeant on her first time testing. She is the production supervisor for the automatic cryogenic rectifier in the technical applications shop; working to repair and refurbish nuclear detection equipment, thus keeping Americans everywhere safe.

The ceremony was the first time Schmidt performed a virtual promotion.

“As a service, we have fought and lived through many adverse situations, and today is no different,” Schmidt said. “In spite of today’s unique and historical conditions, we fight on. We’ll honor these Airmen, their careers, and our Air Force traditions and heritage.”