Unsung Heros

Cynthia Pritchett

Command Sergeant Major Cynthia Pritchett was responsible for 27,000 coalition forces in Afghanistan. Her military career spanned 36 years, most of it spent training soldiers and as an advisor to general and flag officers.

QUESTION: Why did you join the Army?
CYNTHIA: I joined the Army to spite my father, and that's a true story. My friends always ask me that question and I tell them, do you want the truth or do you want the mom and apple pie? But the fact is my father and I didn't get along. My father was an alcoholic, and when I decided that I wanted to go to college we differed on the college I should go to. I wanted to go to a local state university, my father wanted me to go someplace else in order to keep up with my cousin who was going to Notre Dame. We got into such a fight about it, I told my mom that I'm going to go down and talk to the recruiters. So I went down and I talked to all the recruiters except the Navy recruiter because my father was a Navy man. I figured the best way to piss off a 25-year Navy man was to join the Army. So I joined the Army and went off to basic training at Fort McClellan. After I arrived there I called my mom and let her know I was there. She goes, there’s somebody here who wants to talk to you and it was my dad. He goes, look, you can go to whatever college you want to, but just come on home. I said you of all people should know I can't come home now, Pop. So, you know, it started off as spite and probably turned out to be the best career decision I ever made in my life.

QUESTION: You joined in '73?
CYNTHIA: 1973, July.

QUESTION: What was the attitude of the military towards women then?
CYNTHIA: Well, you know, it was the start of the all-volunteer Army. You still had the Women's Army Corps, so I actually joined as a WAC and we were still separate. It wasn't until about 1978 when we disestablished the Women's Army Corps and I actually went to Germany for my second assignment, where women and men were actually integrated into the same unit. Everyone was in the same barracks. So from the time I joined the Army until my second duty assignment in '78, to Europe, I was kind of in the Women's Army Corps. The women stayed in the WAC attachment. They went out and worked in their units and they came back to the WAC detachment. I ended up being in the WAC detachment to learn my supply craft and then I went back to Fort McClellan for my first assignment to the same company that I took basic training in to be the supply clerk. So all my drill sergeants were still there, my company commanders, all those folks were still there when I came back to McClellan. So I ended up in the same unit that I took basic. I did my 3.5-year tour there and became a drill sergeant while I was there.

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