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Promotion Surprise

Western Europe -- Friday, April 8, 6:00 p.m. shift change brought a big surprise to the 313th Maintenance Group Airmen, they thought they were forming up to take a group picture. Little did they know what was about to happen.

The group formed up, smiles were present on the faces of the Airmen, the camera was in position and at the last minute Col. Mark Van Kooten, 313th Maintenance Group Commander stepped forward and put a stop to the group photo and explained that someone in the group was out of uniform and everyone started looking around to see who it could be. Master Sgt. Lee Downey was called to the front of the formation and the group was called to attention as the promotion order was read to promote Downey to the rank of Senior Master Sergeant.

This promotion was different in the fact that Senior Master Sgt. Downey did not know about the promotion, it was a complete surprise. For two weeks the promotion secret was kept, which is quite remarkable in a unit as close as the 171st Air Refueling Wing. The chevrons were purchased and the promotion paperwork was scanned and sent back to our home unit, the 171st ARW. It was forwarded to state headquarters for approval and sent back to the 313 Air Expeditionary Wing, all without notice.

Senior Master Sgt. Downey could have sworn he packed three ABU blouses when he came here. Where did that third blouse go? It was quietly removed from his closet and sent to the Aircrew Flight Equipment Section to sew the new chevrons on.

On the day of the promotion there was concern that a premature congratulatory email had been sent to Senior Master Sgt. Downey and every effort was made to keep him from his email. He was sent on every errand the Maintenance leadership team could come up with. When Senior Master Sgt. Downey was called to the front of the formation there was excitement to all who had made his promotion special, because they had pulled it off.

Congratulations to Senior Master Sgt. Downey on a very well deserved promotion. Yes, you did bring three ABU blouses!