361 TRS Aircrew flight equipment apprentice receives ACE award

From right to left, Airman 1st Class Iokepa Garcia and one of his instructors, Tech. Sgt. Eric Kieffer stand in an aircrew classroom. Garcia earned the ACE award, which is given for maintaining a 100 percent grade average throughout each block test. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson)

From right to left, Airman 1st Class Iokepa Garcia and one of his instructors, Tech. Sgt. Eric Kieffer stand in an aircrew classroom. Garcia earned the ACE award, which is given for maintaining a 100 percent grade average throughout each block test. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Not everyone can pull off perfection. But, an airman at the 361st Training Squadron proved it can be done.

An ACE award was earned by Airman 1st Class Iokepa Garcia, an aircrew flight equipment apprentice from the 361 TRS.

The ACE award represents academic excellence in technical school and receiving a 100 percent average throughout each block test.
 
"I wanted to prove to myself I could do it," Garcia said. "I felt determined."
 
For Garcia, this achievement represents a sense of work ethic and confidence in his skill set as he goes to his next duty assignment at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. As an aircrew flight equipment specialist, he will be responsible for ensuring that vital flight equipment works in emergency situations.

"We're pretty much the last life-line," Garcia said.

Garcia notes that at first he was hesitant with having life and death responsibility, but grew to have faith in his ability to perform.

"I was scared at first, but now I feel confident in the work I am doing," Garcia said. "I feel ready and prepared."

Garcia was looked at as an exemplary Airman by some of his instructors as well.

"He has attention to detail," said Tech. Sgt. Eric Kieffer, a 361 TRS aircrew flight equipment instructor. "He sets a standard for excellence."

Kieffer looks at the ACE award as something to motivate and recognize students simultaneously.

"Excellence breeds excellence," Kieffer said. "That brings other students in the class to a certain level."
 
Kieffer thinks the ACE award is a good starting point for Airmen who will transition into a career field where lives could possibly be counting on them.

"To succeed and perform like this now is what will be required out in the field," Kieffer said. "There is no second chance. We are the second chance."

Garcia perceives the award as a way to continue setting a good standard wherever he is.
 
"I want to strive for excellence and set the bar high for anybody I meet," Garica said.