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Airman finds the Guard a perfect fit for her family

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Crystal Steiger, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the 116th Maintenance Group, Georgia Air National Guard, ensures tube openings are covered on a TF-33 Pratt and Whitney jet engine that is used on the E-8C Joint STARS at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., July 17, 2014.  Steiger was the 2013 Airman of the Year award winner for the 116th Air Control Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Regina Young/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Crystal Steiger, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the 116th Maintenance Group, Georgia Air National Guard, ensures tube openings are covered on a TF-33 Pratt and Whitney jet engine that is used on the E-8C Joint STARS at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., July 17, 2014. Steiger was the 2013 Airman of the Year award winner for the 116th Air Control Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Regina Young/Released)

U. S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Crystal Steiger, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the 116th Maintenance Group, Georgia Air National Guard, is awarded Airman of the Year at the Annual Awards Banquet at the Anderson Conference Center, Macon, Ga., Jan. 10, 2014.   Steiger was the 2013 Airman of the Year award winner for the 116th Air Control Wing.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/released)

U. S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Crystal Steiger, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the 116th Maintenance Group, Georgia Air National Guard, is awarded Airman of the Year at the Annual Awards Banquet at the Anderson Conference Center, Macon, Ga., Jan. 10, 2014. Steiger was the 2013 Airman of the Year award winner for the 116th Air Control Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/released)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- A team of dedicated and committed Airmen from the 116th Air Control Wing operate and maintain the E-8C Joint STARS aircraft and continue its legacy of being "The Eyes of the Night."

Some Airmen stand out above the rest. Senior Airman Crystal Steiger, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the 116th Maintenance Squadron, is such an Airman.
Steiger knew since she was 18 that she wanted to enlist, but it took more than a decade for the right timing for her to join the Georgia Air National Guard.

"I like the structure of the Guard, craved it and I wanted a career," said Steiger.

With only a few years in the Guard, Steiger has already deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and has earned several awards including Airman of the Year for the 116th ACW and the state.

As soon as Steiger completed her training--a month ahead of schedule--and was qualified to deploy, she volunteered.

"Being away from my family was hard," said Steiger. "We missed each other, but my husband made it easier by sending videos and pictures of our daughter...she's such a trooper. Fortunately, I was able to Skype with them almost every night."

"Overall, I had a great experience being deployed. I was lucky; the people I deployed with were positive and outgoing."

Steiger indicated she takes great pride in being a hard-worker and in her willingness to learn and make connections with people. She believes that has contributed to her accomplishments.

"She's a go-getter, her work ethic is contagious," said Master Sgt. Brian Bentzel, Propulsion Flight supervisor. "She sets the standards for others and then leads by example."

"I always try to be my best," said Steiger. "I have a great job and outstanding supervisors and co-workers that keep me motivated."

Steiger commented she was "amazed" and "overwhelmed" at being nominated and receiving Airman of the Year.

"It feels good to be recognized and know that I'm appreciated for my hard work," she said.

Steiger added that the Guard has provided her with structure and stability and a place her family can establish roots.