Service to country top priority for Wisconsin Wing CAP member and Navy Reservist
Milwaukee, Wis – Putting service to her country first is nothing new for Civil Air Patrol member, Lieutenant Colonel Marcia Cunningham, Wisconsin Wing chief of staff – mission support. With 45 years experience in CAP, she also serves her country in the U.S. Navy Reserves and is currently deployed in Bahrain, a small island country near the western shores of the Persian Gulf.
The Wisconsin Wing member has been deployed since November 30, 2012. Attached to the U.S. Fleet Forces Command MOC Chicago and drilling out of the Great Lakes Naval Base, she works for Naval Coordination & Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS), which is attached to CTF 55 of DESRON 50, NAVCENT, 5th fleet, Maritime Command. This is her third deployment in the last 11 years since September 11, 2001. The first was to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for 11 months in 2002 and then to Kampala, Uganda in 2007.
Cunningham’s grade in the Navy is Logistics Specialist Senior Chief (LSCS) or an E-8. Her job title while in Bahrain is Expeditionary Shipping Coordination Center Watch Analyst – Battle Watch Captain. In short, she monitors U.S. ships transiting through high risk areas, especially going through the area near Yemen and Somalia.
When asked what her greatest challenge has been while in Bahrain, Cunningham said that learning the different culture there as well as a new job top the list. “It is totally different than what I’ve been trained for” she said.
She still manages to work on her CAP duties while half a world away. How does she do it? Having the internet helps a lot. When performing active duty or not, Cunningham said that it is “difficult at times to make a decision as to what comes first. Until I retire though, the Navy comes first and CAP second, even though I’ve been in CAP longer.” Overcoming that challenge is not always easy for Cunningham. “I have to work one schedule around the other. I have sometimes been able to change the Navy schedule, but most times, I work CAP around it.”
One would think that holding a full time job as a retirement counselor for the City of Milwaukee and being enlisted in the Navy Reserves was enough to keep Cunningham busy. It does not however stop her from being involved in other organizations as well. Not only does she volunteer for CAP, but she serves as President of the Fleet Reserve Association Branch 14; Treasurer for the Allied Veterans Council of Milwaukee County; is a member of American Legion post 448, an all women’s post; Naval Enlisted Reserve Association, as well as Veterans of Foreign Wars.
What are her thoughts on others serving their country? “I believe that everyone should serve their country in one way or the other. If they can’t in the military, they should volunteer their services for a non-profit group of some kind; so if not for CAP, then maybe the Veterans Association, USO or some other organization that supports our troops” she said.
Just in time for Civil Air Patrol’s Military Ball on March 2, Cunningham’s tour of duty ends next week. She hopes jet lag will not prevent her from attending this annual social event.
What does the future hold once she is back from serving in Bahrain? After 25 years serving in the Navy Reserves, she plans on retiring August 27 of this year. This will give her more time to support the organizations she belongs to…or perhaps she will have time for a much deserved vacation. She has also started to learn to play the banjo; perhaps another career in the making.