Edwin E. Cline enlisted in the Utah Air National Guard 34 years ago. He advanced through the ranks quickly to master sergeant - and then hit a dead end. That was 28 years ago.

"He's not incompetent, it's just because of circumstances - he's one of a kind," says Capt. Jim Parker, Cline's commanding officer at the 151st Mission Support Flight at the Salt Lake International Airport.Cline, 52, works full time for the Guard as his unit's computer operator and has advanced through the civil service pay schedule even though his military grade hasn't changed since 1962.

"Most people barely get 28 years on active duty altogether, let alone in one grade," Parker said.

Cline's situation is similar to many others guard members and reservists who advance in rank to the point where their unit would no longer have a place for them if they won one more promotion.

Promotion often requires a transfer to another unit - possibly in another city or state - which is difficult for those whose part-time military jobs have to coexist with civilian careers.

It is likely the rank stalemate would have continued, except an Air Force and Air Guard reorganization that left Cline with additional responsibilities, but also created an avenue for him to get a promotion and still keep the job in his unit.