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For first time, former Laughlin aircraft maintainer's name posthumously stenciled on T-38C Talon for one year 'ride'

LAUGHLIN AFB, TEXAS -- Laughlin honored a former aircraft maintainer in a posthumous dedication ceremony Aug. 11.

Steven E. Beinke's name was stenciled on a T-38 Talon aircraft to honor his more than 20 years of dedicated service to Laughlin's flying training mission. His name will now "ride" with the jet for a year.

According to Laughlin historian records, this is the first time in its history Laughlin has bestowed this honor on an Air Force civil service member.

"Mr. Beinke was one of those quiet unassuming heroes people talk about and hold in the highest regard," said Deputy Director of Maintenance Mark Hewitt. "And, the dedication was a fitting tribute to a person who gave it all for his employees, for the Air Force, and for the airmen he worked so hard to support."

Mr. Beinke served as the T-38 Aircraft Maintenance Division chief from 1996 to 2003. He led the division during one of its most successful periods in Laughlin history helping the 47th Flying Training Wing earn Maintenance Effectiveness Awards in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003.

Mr. Beinke, a retired Air Force master sergeant, served 38 years of honorable federal service. He passed away on May 5, 2006.

Mr. Beinke was born in Muscatine, Iowa, on Feb. 2, 1947. He attended Wilton Community High School, Iowa, graduating in 1965. Mr. Beinke's began federal service March 1, 1966, as an Air Force enlisted aircraft maintenance mechanic and supervisor. Duty assignments took him to Texas, North Dakota, Republic of South Vietnam, Thailand, and Alaska. During his distinguished career, he maintained the F-4 Phantom, F-101 Voodoo, O-2 Skymaster, T-33 Shooting Star, T-37 Tweet and T-38 Talon aircraft.

Mr. Beinke's service awards and decorations include the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal with two devices; Air Force Achievement Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with five devices; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with one device; and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

His civilian honors include The Air Force Exemplary Civilian Service Award in 2003; the 2000 Air Education and Training Command Lieutenant General Leo Marquez Award, Civilian Manager Category; and the 1998 47the Flying Training Wing Category III Civilian of the Year. Mr. Beinke also earned an associates degree in general education from the Community College of the Air Force.

Mr. Beinke was active in the local Del Rio community where he coached youth softball and served as president of the maintenance directorate's 450-member booster club.

His wife, Maria, resides in Del Rio, Texas; and they have four children, Beverly, Fernando, Josefina, and Steve.