Face of Defense: Retired NCO Continues to Mentor

LAJES FIELD, Azores — Many peo­ple know Cyn­thia Bur­ney as a coun­selor at the Air­man and Fam­i­ly Readi­ness Cen­ter here. But not many may know she retired as a chief mas­ter sergeant after 26 years of ser­vice in the Air Force.
When she enlist­ed in the Air Force 33 years ago, Bur­ney said, she knew she was going to get an edu­ca­tion. She earned two asso­ciate degrees, a bachelor’s degree with hon­ors and two master’s degrees before she retired.

 -
Then-Cyn­thia Sumpter pos­es for a pho­to dur­ing her jet engine mechan­ic train­ing days in the Air Force in the 1970s. Lat­er, she mar­ried fel­low air­man, Gar­rick Bur­ney. She would go on to retire from the Air Force as a chief mas­ter sergeant.
Cour­tesy pho­to
Click to enlarge

Cyn­thia would also gain a hus­band, Gar­rick Bur­ney. They’ve been mar­ried 27 years and both retired as Air Force chief mas­ter sergeants. Gar­rick retired three years ago after 30 years of ser­vice.

The sto­ry of the two retired chiefs began in the 1970s before they met. They had sep­a­rate goals and came from dif­fer­ent back­grounds. But fate and the Air Force brought them togeth­er.

While Cyn­thia came from a mil­i­tary fam­i­ly, Gar­rick did not. Cynthia’s father was in the Army at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Garrick’s only mil­i­tary tie was liv­ing close to a mil­i­tary base in Indi­ana.

Com­ing from a fam­i­ly of 11 sib­lings, four of Cynthia’s five broth­ers joined the Army. Her goal, she said, was to trav­el and get an edu­ca­tion. She knew the mil­i­tary was one way to achieve that goal.

When she was in the 11th grade, an Air Force recruiter vis­it­ed her school and talked about the oppor­tu­ni­ty to go to col­lege and trav­el the world. Right there, Cyn­thia said, she knew the recruiter was talk­ing direct­ly to her, and she was going to join the Air Force, despite being in Army ROTC at the time.

Gar­rick also had a large fam­i­ly, and his par­ents could­n’t afford col­lege for him. Dri­ven to get a skill that would last him a life­time, he often worked with sum­mer hires cut­ting grass for a civ­il engi­neer­ing unit and planned to join the Air Force.

When the time came for Gar­rick to join the ser­vice, a job open­ing hap­pened to come up in the civ­il engi­neer­ing depart­ment. Unlike Cyn­thia, Gar­rick said he was­n’t enticed by any recruiter or his par­ents to join the Air Force. He was sim­ply attract­ed to the Air Force by the image of “sharp air­men” who vis­it­ed his town decked out in their uni­forms.

After two years of ser­vice as a pave­ment main­te­nance spe­cial­ist, the Air Force sent Gar­rick to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where he met Cyn­thia, then a jet engine mechan­ic sergeant. The pair mar­ried two years lat­er.

“We’ve both always been goal-ori­ent­ed,” Cyn­thia said. “That is one of the things that real­ly kept us togeth­er as a cou­ple.”

As an Army brat, Cyn­thia already knew about dis­ci­pline. She was used to fol­low­ing rules, she said, so she did­n’t have any prob­lems after join­ing the Air Force. Lat­er, she decid­ed to become a coun­selor.

“I knew I want­ed to be a coun­selor when my fel­low cowork­ers and friends would always come and talk with me about dif­fer­ent issues or prob­lems,” she said.

“I knew I could make bet­ter use of my life’s gifts as a coun­selor,” she said, “and Gar­rick encour­aged and sup­port­ed me.”

She described her hus­band as a men­tor in teach­ing her about the Air Force.

Gar­rick said he also learned from his wife.

“Togeth­er, we were able to meld our careers and bounce things off each oth­er about life,” Gar­rick said.

“We nev­er real­ly got to the point where I was telling her what to do, and she was­n’t telling me what to do,” he added.

Cyn­thia now is assigned to the 65th Force Sup­port Squadron as the com­mu­ni­ty readi­ness con­sul­tant for the Air­man and Fam­i­ly Readi­ness Cen­ter. Though a lot has changed since the Bur­neys joined the Air Force and met each oth­er, they said one thing has­n’t changed — the Air Force always needs good men­tors.

As a for­mer enlist­ed mem­ber, mil­i­tary spouse and moth­er of three, Cyn­thia said, she has vast expe­ri­ence as a coun­selor, and enjoys con­tin­u­ing her com­mit­ment to serve.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →