TEG NCO STEPS up on Christmas Eve

  • Published
  • By Samuel King Jr.
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs
A lowly staff sergeant stuck at work on Christmas Eve at the Det. 2, 53rd Test and Evaluation Group here, received a BIG Christmas gift from the Air Force - a promotion to technical sergeant.

The 53d Wing's newest technical sergeant, Patrick McCue, was promoted by Col. Steve DePalmer, 53d Wing commander, through the Stripes for Exceptional Performers program.
"It was truly an unforgettable morning, that Christmas Eve," said the father of five.

Det. 2 Commander Lt. Col. David Anderson set up a scenario to have then-Staff Sgt. McCue, the NCOIC of RQ-4 Sensor Operations Testing, brief Colonel DePalmer on RQ-4 testing.

"In the reconnaissance business, it's not unusual to work through the holidays, so I didn't put much thought into it when Colonel Anderson told me about a Christmas Eve teleconference with Colonel DePalmer," said the nine-year veteran.

Colonel Anderson also arranged for Sergeant McCue's wife, Nicole, and members of the detachment could listen in on the call.

"It seems so clear to me now, but at the time I was oblivious to the fact that there were more bodies in the office than what would be normal for the day before Christmas," said the Florida native.

Colonel DePalmer had many questions and kept the ruse going for a while before telling Sergeant McCue he was working above his grade. Then he broke the news that he needed to make him a technical sergeant.

"I was caught off guard (with the conversation) and didn't know where he was going or how to respond," said Sergeant McCue. "Then, like an expert storyteller, he brought it all together with these words, which I will never forget, 'We are making you a Tech Sergeant!' I was completely surprised and speechless. My mouth hung open as everyone from the unit burst into the commander's office. The only words I could muster in reply to Colonel DePalmer were a heartfelt, 'Thank you sir.' "

Colonel Anderson felt his NCO was so deserving of a promotion, he submitted the STEP package to both the 53d Wing and Air Combat Command.
"He is truly an outstanding individual," said the colonel. "(He is) head and shoulders above his peers in every way."