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Master Sgt. Pruett, STEP right up
Lt. Gen. Glenn Spears, Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander and Lt. Col. Kevin Blanchard, commander of the 355th Operations Support Squadron, "pin" master sergeant stripes on Master Sgt. Brian Pruett of the 355th OSS, here Jun 29. Sergeant Pruett earned his rank on the spot as a selectee for the Stripes for Exceptional Performers program, which allocates a small handful of stripes to each wing per year. Wing commanders can then use the allocations to promote outstanding individuals to staff sergeant, technical sergeant, and master sergeant. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jerilyn Quintanilla)
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Sergeant Pruett, STEP right up

Posted 7/1/2010   Updated 7/1/2010 Email story   Print story


by 2nd Lt Sarah Godfrey
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

7/1/2010 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.  -- On June 28, Brian Pruett was like lots of technical sergeants on base, working hard and maybe spending the occasional minute thinking about when to study for his next promotion test.

On June 29, a couple of high-ranking officers stopped by and made him a master sergeant.

Sergeant Pruett, NCO in charge of aircrew flight equipment for the 355th Operations Support Squadron, was D-M's latest beneficiary of the Stripes For Exceptional Performers program. After Lt. Gen. Glenn Spears, Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander and Lt. Col. Kevin Blanchard, 355th OSS commander, placed E-7 stripes on the sergeant's sleeves, the Airman was officially promoted on the spot.

A STEP promotion is not given lightly, and Sergeant Pruett's display of professionalism and initiative in his personal and professional life has been evident throughout his entire career.

As a technical school instructor at Aircrew Flight Equipment Course at Sheppard AFB, Texas, he graduated 520 Airmen into their new careers. He also spent much of his off-duty time working toward his bachelor's degree.

Even though he was raising a young family, he also participated in the Sheppard AFB honor guard, where he was hand-selected to serve as a pall bearer and in the firing squad at the funeral for retired Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Thomas N. Barnes.

As an Airman abroad, Sergeant Pruett's work ethic did not diminish. While on a 90-day deployment to Afghanistan and Africa, he provided support to the 48th Rescue Squadron pararescue operators, where he inspected and repacked more than 80 parachutes to be utilized for downrange search-and-rescue operations.

Sergeant Pruett described Tuesday's event as the highlight of his career.

"I never expected anything like this to happen in my career," said the new senior NCO. "The only way I know how to explain how I feel is that this is something that happens to other people, never me. It was surreal, like winning the lottery."

Every year, the Air Force releases a limited number of STEP-promotion slots, which are then divvied up between major commands and installation wings. Due to the short supply of authorizations, wing commanders must be extremely selective in handing them out. To even be considered for STEP promotion, Airmen must have displayed outstanding professionalism and excellence in duty. Recipients are truly recognized as "exceptional performers."

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