Signal Soldiers Gets Woman of the Year Award
(July 1, 2010)
Army Chief Warrant Officer 2
Cynthia Thomas, enterprise officer in charge,
enjoys the fresh air at the Readiness Training
Center in Fort McCoy, Wis.
BAGRAM, Afghanistan (June 28, 2010) -- Deploying for the
first time comes with a number of uncertainties and
expectations, but Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Cynthia P.
Thomas never could have guessed the news she received upon
getting into Afghanistan.
Within days of arriving at Bagram Airfield, Thomas, the
enterprise system administrator for Task Force Thunder, was
told she had been awarded ‘Woman of the Year' by the
Midlands chapter of the American Business Women's
In between her work as the commercial systems manager at
BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, a Reserve signal
Soldier with the 359th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade and
the mother of three, Thomas served as chapter president,
treasurer and chairwoman of several committees over the past
The award, which is only earned via nomination, “is all
about your contribution to the community and how you help
and support others,” said Thomas.
Though the title came as a surprise to Thomas, the principle
behind it did not. “I didn't expect it at all, but it goes
to show you that when you have a genuine concern for others,
it doesn't matter where you are. Your work won't go
unnoticed,” said Thomas. “If it's genuine, you will get
Since Thomas was already in Afghanistan when the award was
announced, her 18-year-old daughter Sherrise, accepted the
recognition in her place. My friends told me she was very
professional and spoke like a mature young lady, said
Thomas. “She brought tears of joy to my eyes,” said Pamela
Beasley, a friend of Thomas.
The tears of joy did not all come from my friends, said
Thomas. “My daughter said she was proud of me, and I didn't
expect to hear that from a high school senior.” Young people
don't always think outside of themselves, but she did, and I
couldn't be more proud of her, said Thomas.
This mutual support is literally a tenet at the Thomas
household. “We have a rule in our house that we may not like
the activities each other do but as long as they are
positive, we support each other,” said Thomas.
And for the last six years, Thomas has stuck to her rule by
attending every football game of her son's and cheerleading
competition of her daughter's. “I never missed a game or
competition unless I had military duty,” said Thomas.
Now that military duty has taken Thomas across the world,
Thomas cannot support her children as much as she likes, but
she knows that they understand. “They know I love the
military. They don't particularly care that I leave, but
they support me,” said Thomas.
The bottom line of all this circular support is team work,
said Thomas. “It doesn't matter if you are in a war zone,
back home or at the beach; it is about being a team.”
One of the team efforts Thomas was working on before she
deployed was her endeavor with Sister Care, an organization
that helps kids from abused homes. I have a passion for kids
and think everyone should be given equal opportunities and
treated fairly, said Thomas. Not supporting the community is
just not a wise consideration, said Thomas. “These children
are our future leaders.”
Deploying to Afghanistan did not restrict Thomas' need and
ability to support the community; it just changed her avenue
of approach. Young Soldiers come to me and ask me a lot of
personal and professional questions, said Thomas. “I guess
they look at me like a role model, and it makes me feel good
that I am a comfort and ear to them.”
Thomas is not just a role model to the youth, but her peers
as well, said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Stephen A.
Campbell, enterprise system non-commissioned officer in
charge, Task Force Thunder. “She blends quality traits like
integrity, leadership, and core values, all the while
projecting nurturing and mentoring skills.”
When asked to assign specific skills and traits to her roles
as mother, business woman and Soldier, Thomas said that each
job had similar skills and duties.
“The similarities are all about passion, being a good leader
and knowing how to treat people.”
Article and photo by Army Capt. Michelle Lunato
359th Signal Brigade
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