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Exceptional Airman promotes early

Airman 1st Class Jake Flores, 45th Space Wing Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technician, was recently selected for senior airman Below the Zone Sept. 25, 2015, at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. BTZ is a competitive early promotion program offered to those in the rank of airman first class, who stand out from their peers and perform duties at a level above their current rank. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Premo/Released)

Airman 1st Class Jake Flores, 45th Space Wing Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technician, was recently selected for senior airman Below the Zone Sept. 25, 2015, at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. BTZ is a competitive early promotion program offered to those in the rank of airman first class, who stand out from their peers and perform duties at a level above their current rank. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Premo/Released)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- It was a typical Friday physical training formation when the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron commander called Airman 1st Class Jake Flores to the front and asked him to do the push-ups he skipped during the last session. Flores did not recall skipping any push-ups during the last formation but began doing them anyway. When he got to six, the commander told him that he'd done enough and, to Flores' surprise, congratulated him for making senior airman six-months early.  

Flores, a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technician, was the only Airman in the 45th Space Wing to be selected for senior airman Below the Zone (BTZ) Sept. 25, 2015, at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.

BTZ is a competitive early promotion program offered to those in the rank of airman first class, who stand out from their peers and perform duties at a level above their current rank. To be eligible for BTZ, Airmen in the rank of airmen first class must have 36 months of time-in-service and 20 months of time-in-grade, or 28 months TIG, whichever occurs first, and be recommended by the commander.

"Being promoted below the zone is a physical reward for striving for excellence. It's pushed me and showed me that if you are willing to put in the work, things are achievable - goals are achievable," said Flores.

Flores, who grew up in Monterrey, California, is the only one in his family to be born in the United States and the first one in his immediate family to join the Air Force.

"I was raised by my grandparents when I was really young and my parents made a lot of sacrifices in order for me to be where I am today," he said. "I joined the Air Force right out of high school."

Since Flores has joined the Air Force, he has taken great pride in the work he does and finds other ways to honor and serve his country. 

"Being able to work on refrigeration systems at mission critical facilities shows me how each job in the Air Force plays an important part," he said. "I also volunteer to sing the National Anthem. It's an honor to sing in the Air Force in front of a crowd."

Besides testing for staff sergeant in a few months, Flores' goals for the future are finishing his associate degree, his Community College of the Air Force degree, and eventually entering the Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program - a program that enables enlisted members to receive a commission and serve as nurses in the Air Force.

Master Sgt. John Charlier, 45th Civil Engineer Squadron Infrastructure superintendent and one of Flores' mentors, is inspired by his accomplishment.

"Airman 1st Class Flores is inspiring to me and everyone around him with his level of drive and excitement about the Air Force, we need more like him." said Charlier.