Airman ‘STEPs up’ to technical sergeant Published Feb. 26, 2014 By Heidi Hunt 45th Space Wing Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Smith, of the 45th Launch Support Squadron, earned an extra stripe under the Air Force's Stripe for Exceptional Performers program here Jan. 27. The STEP program allows Air Force leaders to select Airmen with outstanding potential for promotion to the grades of staff sergeant through master sergeant. "It took a couple of minutes to sink in, but afterward I was completely ecstatic about the great news," Smith said. The program supplements existing Airmen promotion programs and is designed to accommodate unique circumstances that, in the commander's judgment, clearly warrant a promotion. "Smith consistently demonstrated the highest qualities of leadership and professionalism as a spacecraft mission assurance technician," Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, 45th Space Wing commander, wrote in Smith's nomination letter. "His technical acumen resulted in the successful launch of 15 National Security Space missions worth over $10 billion, directly improving our nation's missile warning, intelligence collection, communication and global positioning capabilities." There were only three promotions to execute across the 14th Air Force and Smith clearly came away as one of the command's best, according to Command Chief Master Sgt. Patrick McMahon, 14th Air Force. Smith's proven performance led to his selection as lead Mission Assurance Technician for our two most recent satellite launch campaigns, during which he piloted 10 members through more than 300 critical satellite test and integration tasks, according to Armagno. "His relentless attention to detail ensured 100 percent mission success, and led to his squadron receiving zero errors during the 2013 Air Force Space Command Unit Effectiveness Inspection," Armagno added. "Tech. Sgt. Smith's sterling performance and dedication landed him numerous group and squadron quarterly awards, capped by the Patrick AFB non-commissioned officer of the second quarter award 2013." While Smith earned his technical sergeant stripe, he continues to work toward his long-term goal. "My future goal in the Air Force is to continue to work hard and take on my new responsibilities," Smith said, who served in the Air Force for eight and a half years and is originally from Amelia, Ohio. Not only does Smith excel in the workplace, he has spent hundreds of hours leading his local community through a variety of charitable services, including building homes for the needy and transporting meals to the disabled. Smith shaped boys into young men as a football and baseball coach and honored our greatest generation as an escort for 12-World War II veterans during a "Hope For Heroes" event. Smith's dedication to community service earned him the Patrick AFB volunteer of the fourth quarter 2012, and the 2013 Military Advisory Council Community Service Award.