Stripes for Exceptional Performers Published Aug. 6, 2020 By Capt. Jodi Snyder 171st Air Refueling Wing FINDLAY TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- The 171st Air Refueling Wing utilized the Stripes for Exceptional Performers (STEP II) program to promote two stellar airmen. Senior Master Sgt. Darin Beckes and Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Mowry were both promoted to chief master sergeant through STEP II, which is a program designed to promote outstanding and well-deserving airmen one grade over the authorized grade for their position. “We are proud to promote both of these individuals who have accomplished so much in their decorated careers,” said Col. Mark Goodwill, commander of the 171st ARW. The STEP II process starts with a nomination from an individual’s immediate supervisor. Next, an endorsement from a unit commander, group commander and wing commander is necessary. The nominated airmen compete in a variety of ways and are rated based on completion of professional military education, mentorship and other contributions before meeting a board of people for an interview. After all the preliminary work of the nomination package is accomplished and approved by the wing, the package is forwarded to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard Joint Force Head Quarters where it undergoes another rigorous review. The nominee competes against peers across the state for the promotion, which includes another interview with a board panel consisting of the state command chief and command chiefs from each wing throughout the state. “This program is designed for the best of the best. Individuals are competing against top-performers, and imagine sitting in front of all the command chiefs across the state. That’s intense,” said Chief Master Sgt. Charles Wiley, command chief of the 171st ARW. Beckes has been a member of the 171st ARW for 20 years. He enlisted in active duty Air Force in January 1997 before transferring to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. Beckes has held several positions within the 171st Fire Emergency Services including driver operator, crew chief, station chief, assistant chief of training, assistant chief of operations, deputy fire chief and most recently, fire chief. Mowry serves at the 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a geographically separated unit of the 171st ARW. He enlisted in active duty Air Force in January 1991 before transferring to the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and then to PAANG where he has been a member for 18 years. Mowry has been in charge of several areas including airfield systems work center, ground radar/airfield systems maintenance superintendent, and currently serves as the radar airfield weather systems production manager. “Both of these individuals did an outstanding job on the boards and representing the pride of our wing,” said Wiley.