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Peters concludes three decades of service to Air Force, Air National Guard

Chief Master Sgt. Steven Peters (right) is presented with a Meritorious Service Medal by Lt. Col. Phil Howard, commander of the 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron, during a retirement ceremony held in Peters’ honor at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Feb. 2, 2013. Peters, the squadron’s chief of operations, served in the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard for three decades. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Joshua Horton)

Chief Master Sgt. Steven Peters (right) is presented with a Meritorious Service Medal by Lt. Col. Phil Howard, commander of the 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron, during a retirement ceremony held in Peters’ honor at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Feb. 2, 2013. Peters, the squadron’s chief of operations, served in the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard for three decades. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Joshua Horton)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- After 30 years of dedicated service to the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard, Chief Master Sgt. Steven Peters retired during a ceremony held in his honor Feb. 2 at the 123rd Airlift Wing.

Lt. Col. Phil Howard, commander of the 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron, officiated the service, calling Peters a true professional who "always got the job done."

"I'm honored to have this opportunity today to say a few things about the chief on his retirement after 30 years of service to the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard," Howard told an audience of more than 200 friends, family and coworkers in the Base Annex.

"I want to thank everyone here for taking their time to pay tribute to a true patriot, a leader, a veteran, a brother, a son and, most importantly for me, a great friend."

Peters, chief of operations for the 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron, decided to join the Armed Forces during his junior year of high school. While working odd jobs, he came to the conclusion that his talents would be better served elsewhere after an Air Force recruiter visited his school. Peters enlisted a year later.

After attending technical training as a plumber at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Peters was stationed at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, for four years. Following a downsizing of the Air Force enlisted ranks, he left active duty and joined the Kentucky Air National Guard in 1986.

Peters' first deployment was to Hawaii in 1988. After that, he deployed to multiple locations around the world, including England, Spain, Central America, Germany, Ecuador, Bagdad and Afghanistan.

Peters said his proudest moments were his participation in Operation Enduring Freedom, the war in Afghanistan; Operation Iraqi Freedom, the war in Iraq; Operations Jump Start 1 and 2, the National Guard-led effort to enhance border security with Mexico; and Operation Neuvos Horizontes, a Kentucky National Guard mission to build a school and other infrastructure in Ecuador while enhancing relations with the Ecuadorian military.

"The thing I remember is that he always did things neatly, always maintained great military bearing and always, always got the job done," Howard said.

Peters demonstrated his leadership in 2004 when he was selected as distinguished graduate at a Pavements and Equipment Training Course. He declined to accept the honor so a younger, up-and-coming troop could receive the award instead. For his selfless actions, Peters was given the commander's award for Leadership in Excellence instead.

"You always took care of the men, and that was your key role," Howard said, calling it an especially critical function when the unit was deployed in 2011 to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan -- a site that receives regular enemy fire. "You quickly nailed down everyone's location during rocket attacks, making sure we were all safe. You made sure everyone got credit for their hard work, personally processing 60 awards."

Thanks in part to Peters' persistence and character, Howard added, the 123d Civil Engineer Squadron received its first "excellent" rating during a 2010 Operational Readiness Inspection.

"I appreciate that you left this place better than you found it," Howard said. "Most importantly, you met the prime objective, which is to always take care of the men and women of this unit. I want to salute you for your great contributions and a job well done."