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Making the Climb

Making the Climb

Senior Master Sgt. Becky Thomas, 5th Medical Operations Squadron superintendent, and Senior Master Sgt. Detrick Thomas, 705th Munitions Squadron systems flight chief, pose for a photo with their children, and base leadership, at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Dec. 12, 2017. Both of them were recently named two of Minot's chief master sergeant- selects. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jonathan McElderry)

Making the Climb

(Courtesy photo)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --

Throughout their career, only a few Airmen will make it to the rank of chief master sergeant; an even smaller percentage will reach this accomplishment as a couple.

Senior Master Sgt. Becky Thomas, 5th Medical Operations Squadron superintendent, and her husband, Senior Master Sgt. Detrick Thomas, 705th Munitions Squadron systems flight chief, were recently named two of Minot Air Force Base’s newest chief master sergeant selects.

In 2010, then Tech. Sgt. Becky Thomas, began her journey to Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, where she first lay eyes on her husband.
Detrick, also a technical sergeant, was an instructor at the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy and assigned as her trainer.

In a staff of only 21 people, they quickly became friends and later became a couple.

Although their relationship had just began to blossom, the Air Force had other plans for them.

“She arrived to Keesler two years after I did and we still weren’t married,” said Detrick. “This meant we had to spend two years apart when I got orders. There was a lot of traveling back and forth every month with our one-year-old.”

“I think the hardest part for most military couples is the unknown if you’re going to be separated,” he added.

Once Becky joined her husband in Minot, their motions synchronized and they began to soar through the Air Force ranks.

“Military couples are lucky because we know what each other has going on,” said Becky. “We know when testing cycles are, or if someone has to work late. There is just an overall understanding.”

For a lot of military couples it is important to find the balance between managing careers and the household. The Thomas’ support for each other sometimes means they have to sacrifice their time to help their partner.

“When testing time comes around, whoever is more apt to promote that year gets more dedicated study time while the other tackles family duties,” said Becky.

During their first year testing for senior master sergeant, support for this couple also came in the form of keeping each other on track.

“I made it my first time and so did he. I attribute a lot of that to him telling me to study,” said Becky.

As the couple worked toward the final rank of their career things became more challenging. Detrick felt his chances of making it were high, but Becky’s were looking slim with only two eligible to make chief master sergeant in her career field.

“I knew she would be competitive based off the work she was doing- and because she’s just amazing.” Detrick said, smiling at his wife. “But we knew this was going to be harder than before.”

Finally when the results were released, a crowd of chief master sergeants broke the good news to Detrick and pulled him onto a bus to see his wife, who would once again join him in the next rank.

“I was partly shocked and filled with excitement,” Detrick said. “I was more excited when I found out she made it with me.”

“It’s such an accomplishment when families do well,” Becky added. “It’s even better when they do well together.”

Now that they’ve reached the last rung of the ladder, they face an obstacle that was once familiar six years ago.

“The tough part now is working everything out to help us stay together,” said Detrick. “As a chief, all the places I can go--she can’t and vice versa.”

Becky said she is thankful for their career field functional managers who are working hard to help them seek options.

“This is the part where we try special duties and take other opportunities to learn new career fields; that’s what will keep us together,” said Becky.

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