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A coin forever links Airman, AMC command chief

  • Published
  • By Louis Briscese
  • 60 AMW Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- It’s not every day you get an opportunity to make a favorable first impression on an Air Force leader. When individuals capitalize on these situations, a positive outcome is usually the result. For one Travis Airman, his first impression developed a bond that may pay it forward for generations to come.


During a distinguished visitor tour here at David Grant USAF Medical Center, Airman 1st Class EJ Kevin Sto. Domingo, a medical laboratory technician with the 60th Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron here, received a coin from Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey,  Air Mobility Command command chief.


This was not the command chief coin Frey typically hands out to exceptional performers during her visits with AMC units, this coin was much more meaningful.


This coin held a special place in my heart, it was the one coin I carried with me every day,” said Frey.


As a young Airman, Frey received a coin from a chief who she made a favorable first impression on.


“This chief saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself – he recognized my leadership potential,” said Frey. “That coin meant a lot to me and when I was promoted to chief, I vowed to one day find an Airman who I recognized strong leadership traits in and pass it along to.”  


On a rainy day in February 2017, Frey found the Airman with the leadership traits she was looking for. Sto. Domingo had only been in the Air Force about two years and said he was surprised he stood out from the thousands of Airmen Frey previously met.

“She’s met thousands of Airmen, great Airmen who’ve done amazing things,” said Sto. Domingo. “To be singled out among so many means a great deal to me.”

Like any great leader, Sto. Domingo knows he’s only as good as the people around him. He credits his fellow Airmen, leadership, and duty section for shaping him into the Airman he is today.

“My chief told me that we could have really chosen any one of us to brief Chief Frey and they would have done a great job,” said Sto. Domingo. “That’s what team Travis is all about, we help each other prepare for whatever comes our way.”

Receiving such a treasured memento comes with a certain amount of responsibility and expectation, which doesn’t go unnoticed by Sto. Domingo.

“The fact that I’m holding this coin now gives me a responsibility to do the job that she thinks I can, and become the leader she knows I can be,” said Sto. Domingo.  “It’s a motivation and expectation that I’m excited to live up to.”

Frey said she knew right from the moment she met Sto. Domingo that he was a different Airman.

“Airman Sto. Domingo is in a separate class; as soon as I met him, I could clearly see he exudes professionalism,” said Frey. “I can see that though he’s junior in rank, he’s already a leader, he’s the type of Airman who makes me want to work for him.”

Sto. Domingo says the feelings are mutual about Frey and that he credits her for the successful first impression.

“I was nervous up to the moment I met Chief Frey; she immediately put me at ease, made me feel comfortable and confident,” said Sto. Domingo. “She was so friendly, and I felt like I could be me, she hugged me and said, I’m going to stick with you all day.”

Frey isn’t the only one who sees the leadership potential Sto. Domingo possess. His direct supervisor Master Sgt. Johndale Lilly, 60th MDTS, already knows he’s well on his way to accomplishing great things.

“He takes initiative I don’t have to worry about him at all, he’s the best troop I’ve ever had,” said Lilly. “Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough because he takes care of everything first impressions are a big deal and he obviously made a great one.”

When Sto. Domingo listened to Frey discuss the importance of the coin during the presentation, he realized this coin was going to be very special to him.

“For the most part I keep the coin at home because I’m proud of it and I like showing it to friends and family,” said Sto. Domingo. “I did have it on me when I took my physical fitness test and my career development course end-of-course exam, it’s like a good luck charm for me.”

Receiving the coin has also instilled a sense of confidence, an extra bounce in his step since receiving the coin.

“I’m used to being second and third place all my life, although this wasn’t a contest, this made me feel like a winner,” he said.

Frey is confident Sto. Domingo will one day be Chief Sto. Domingo and pass the coin on to keep the tradition going. But she also wants Sto. Domingo to know it’s about much more than just being a chief.

“I want Sto. Domingo to remember that regardless of his rank, he is a leader; if he continues down this path, he will continue to grow into a greater leader,” said Frey. “We need Airmen like him in our Air Force – he will carry us into the future and ensure we remain the world’s best Air Force.”

Sto. Domingo hopes to be a chief one day, but also knows the importance of recognizing an Airman with the potential that was shown in him.

“I will pass this coin to someone else, not necessarily when I’m a chief because you never know what will happen,” said Sto. Domingo. “Whoever I see fit, who deserves this coin, I will hand it down to them.”