Agnew promotes to chief master sergeant
By Staff Sgt. Gordon Beecroft, 111th Fighter Wing
/ Published January 12, 2012
WILLOW GROVE AIR RESERVE STATION, Pa. -- Members of the 111th Fighter Wing, the command staff, family and friends gathered March 5, 2011 at Willow Grove Air Reserve Station, Pa., to honor Stephen Agnew,
270th Engineering Installation Squadron (EIS) senior enlisted manager, as he was promoted to the rank of chief master sergeant.
Chief Agnew's career, which has spanned more than 35 years, has been highlighted by two significant first time accomplishments for the Air National Guard and the 270th EIS; a life changing decision at the age of 19, and a son who is following in his father's footsteps.
"I had no interest in college and didn't have a skill. A friend who lived down the street, a member of the 270th at the time, encouraged me to join," said the chief. "I figured, I'm going to learn a skill and get paid. So I joined."
After returning from tech school, Agnew was offered a position with Amtrak as a splicer in the communications and signal department. "I was hired because of my Air Force training," he said. After twelve years of service to Amtrak, he accepted a full time
position with the 270th EIS. "It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I love this unit. We have such a great group of people," he added.
The chief said one of the highlights of his career was acting as the project manager for the Combat Information Transport System (CITS) project at McGuire Air Force Base, NJ in 1997. "We were the first Air Force unit to install on this project. We installed 44 miles of conduit and 27 miles of fiber optic cable." Agnew managed one active duty unit, seven Air National Guard engineering and installation squadrons, 11 civil engineering (CE) squadrons, and two Air Force Reserve CE units for a total of 9,320 man-days. "This was a big deal. We got it done on time and under budget. I learned a lot about myself; I found out who I was from this project."
After CITS, his next deployment was in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Initially, Agnew had been informed that he and the other four airmen on his team would be deployed for one year. "It was challenging to know you'll be away from your family for a year, but we were prepared to go."
The deployment lasted four months. The five-man team from the 270th EIS, its first deployment, accomplished 33 percent of the engineering work completed in the area of responsibility for that deployment. "We completed everything that was handed to us. We left knowing that we accomplished something."
In addition to the miles of cable that were installed, the team accomplished one more thing: the camaraderie of the team bonded the men together. "I gained a great friendship with a fellow airman from the deployment. Before that, I had only seen him in the hallway."