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16th tech STEPs to master at recent CC call

Tech. Sgt. Julie Morris, 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron, gets her new master sergeant stripes tacked on by Chief Master Sgt. Randy Salefske, 53rd Wing command chief, and Col. Ken Wilsbach, wing commander, at a commander?s call Dec. 21.

Tech. Sgt. Julie Morris, 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron, gets her new master sergeant stripes tacked on by Chief Master Sgt. Randy Salefske, 53rd Wing command chief, and Col. Ken Wilsbach, wing commander, at a commander?s call Dec. 21.

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- "Wow! I couldn't believe I was going from what I perceived as a butt-chewing, to a STEP promotion in a matter of seconds," said the 53rd Wing's newest master sergeant, Julie Morris, 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron. "What an exhilarating moment."

With a few hundred 53rd Wing Airmen and civilians watching, the then-technical sergeant was abruptly interrupted by Col. Ken Wilsbach, 53rd Wing commander, during her briefing about financial irresponsibility affecting security clearances.

The colonel said her briefing was not on the level he expected for a technical sergeant.

But what the Air Force veteran of 15 years didn't know was the commander had something up his sleeve, or better yet, something for her sleeve.

After asking Chief Master Sgt. Randy Salefske, 53rd command chief, what should be done to correct the situation, Colonel Wilsbach produced a set of master sergeant stripes for the speechless, newly-promoted senior NCO.

Stripes for Exceptional Performers is a form of enlisted promotion for those military members whose rank doesn't always match their potential.

That moment on Dec. 21, was the climax of a month-long emotional roller coaster for the Batavia, N.Y., native.

"December was a tremendously emotional month with my husband's retirement, my promotion and the passing of my father-in-law," she said. "I was so proud to stand up on that stage and have those master sergeant stripes tacked on."

Her husband, Scott, is already planning the next stripe.

"Don't change a thing," advised the former master sergeant. "If she stays just as dedicated to her career in the Air Force as she has been, we'll soon have a senior master sergeant in the house."

Sergeant Morris's senior leadership believes she can make it to the top tier.

"Julie is a consummate professional who does the work of three," said Lt. Col. Mark Colbert, 16th EWS commander. "She always volunteers, has the highest integrity, and is a pleasure to work with. She is one of the sharpest I've worked with, officer or enlisted; she embodies the Air Force core values everyday. She is definitely on track to make chief ... hopefully she will stay in that long."

When considering that top level enlisted rank, Sergeant Morris said she is only the co-pilot when it comes to her future career path.

"It would be great to be a chief master sergeant one day, but I do believe that God has a path for me and only if that path includes chief will I then be one," the modest sergeant said. "If not, then I will still be doing my best to support our great country no matter what path I'm on."

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