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Hard-working maintenance Airman finds time to smile

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cortney Paxton
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Upon walking into Malmstrom's Bldg. 165, most people would find passcode-locked doors, full conference rooms, ringing phones and plenty of hard-working Airmen. However, behind one of those doors is an Airman who brings an almost unmatched work ethic and a love for making people laugh.

Airman 1st Class Sterling Perry, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron missile communications technician, spends most of his days troubleshooting problems with communications systems throughout the missile complex as well as the base command post.

"We fix all of the communications systems for the [launch control centers] and also the [support information network] lines at the [launch facilities]," he said. "A SIN line is the way the maintenance teams communicate with the capsules and [maintenance operations center] on-site because they can't have cellphones [in those locations]. We do maintenance out in the field, but we can also troubleshoot some of it on the phone to an extent. We'll also do work on some of the systems for the base command post."

Perry has a family history of service in the military, but says that his choice to join was just to better himself as a person. Upon his decision to join straight out of high school, he took the first job opportunity that became available to him, which he looks back now on as a good call.

"I really like every part of my job equally," he said. "I like everything about it. However, I would say the feeling you get when you fix something and you know that you had a part in doing that is a really rewarding part of this job."

Perry works in two different locations - in an office troubleshooting problems via phone, or in the missile complex doing hands-on maintenance. While each location has its own set of difficulties, Perry takes one day at a time and always finds time to smile.

"I like to make people laugh," Perry said. "I never really get too down about anything. I really just wake up and just try to make it through another day. Whatever happens, happens and I'll deal with it however I need to. I just kind of go with the flow."

"He kind of brightens up everyone's day in a way," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Rutledge, 341st MMXS critical task supervisor. "When you have Airman Perry around, it's an easier day to go through."

While some days may be longer than others, as Perry and his coworkers may spend up to 16 hours responding to a maintenance call in the missile complex, he always makes sure to find time to give back to the base and local community. On top of a few additional duties while on the job, Perry has donated many hours of his time to local volunteer opportunities.

"Quite often we'll (shop members) volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program off base, which is pretty fun," Perry said. "I started doing it towards the end of last year - I would say I've done it somewhere between 15 to 20 times. We just deliver meals to people who can't really get out of their homes - don't have the ability to leave their house really. We just show up, they give you a route and how many meals are on that route, and you just go deliver them. We've also helped with Habitat for Humanity. [Volunteering] gets you out of your shop for a little bit and it just feels good to help someone else. That's the main thing. We'll normally see who wants to go, and then we'll go as a group out of here. It's kind of a camaraderie thing. You get used to being around each other and working together so you kind of get closer in that sense."

Serving his community is just one selfless thing Perry does to give back. He currently serves as the dorm chief of Dorm 735, making sure all of the dorm residents are satisfied in their living spaces. He also attends monthly dorm meetings where he has the ability to voice the concerns of the dorm residents.

While he's active in the well-being of those around him, he's also set reachable goals for himself. He's scheduled to sew on senior airman stripes in May and hopes to become a team chief at the shop soon afterwards.

"He has the knowledge base there, he's decisive when it comes to the hard choices and knowledge calls - as far as how to fix things - and he just really doesn't turn down doing any kind of work," Rutledge said. "With all of those things, if he wants [team chief] he can have it. I would say he's already a leader. He knows how to step up and take charge on projects. He's very knowledgeable and hands-on, and he gets a lot of respect from his peers for that."

Perry also plans to start attending college this spring in the hopes of attaining his Community College of the Air Force degree. His goal is to continue to rank up in the Air Force although he's currently unsure if his plans include a career in the service.

"I haven't really decided yet if I plan to stay in," he said. "I've been kind of thinking about it back and forth both ways for a while, but right now I'm leaning towards staying in. I like the people that I work with, and I also like the amount of responsibility they trust you with in the Air Force."

Responsibility is only one of Perry's well-known traits in the missile communications unit. His others include leadership, determination and, most of all, a positive attitude.

"He keeps morale high over here right now," Rutledge said.