Alamo Wing leadership had the exciting task of surprising three of the wing’s top performers with new rank Sept. 12.
Master Sgt. Richard Popp of the 733rd Training Squadron will officially be promoted to senior master sergeant, while Staff Sgts. Richard Slifer of the 433rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and Jason Takai of the 433rd Maintenance Group will officially be promoted to technical sergeant Oct. 1 as part of the Air Force Reserve Command’s Stripes for Exceptional Performers II program.
“Please join me in congratulating each of these Airmen on their outstanding achievement,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Pinsky, 433rd Airlift Wing command chief master sergeant. “Selection for promotion by this board is very competitive. These Airmen are not just competing with those in their own career field; they are competing with Airmen across the Air Force Reserve Command. They are the best of the best.”
Popp was one of only 20 Airmen in the command selected for promotion to senior master sergeant, while Slifer and Takai were two of only 50 Airmen selected for technical sergeant.
Pinsky noted that the selectees had similar responses to the leadership’s news of promotion selection.
“All three of them were very subdued and humbled when we broke the news,” Pinsky said. “They were quick to credit their peers and leadership, and they understood that a lot of people helped them get to where they are today.”
Popp said he was especially lucky to have some amazing mentors along the way.
“I have had many great mentors throughout my career, but my previous supervisor, Senior Master Sgt. Marc Gibson (also assigned to the 733rd TRS) was determined to see me get a STEP promotion. I’m thankful for all of their guidance and support.”
Slifer was quick to credit his leadership and peers as well.
“Honestly, the ones who have helped me receive this promotion where the men and women of the 433rd Maintenance Group,” he said. “There are decades of aircraft experience here, and without them, I would have never been able to accomplish half the goals I set out to reach on this (Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas) flightline.”
The STEP II program, formally known as the Promotion Enhancement Program, is a commander’s program designed to promote outstanding and well-deserving Air Force Reserve Airmen in Category A, members assigned to a unit, and Category B,
Individual Mobilization Augmentees to one grade above the authorized grade for their position, according to the AFRC Personnel Center. STEP II also applies to Category E or Participating Individual Ready Reserve members for technical sergeant through chief master sergeant promotions.
Headquarters AFRC establishes STEP II quotas, which are determined by manning levels.