Profiles in Leadership Nominee - Cynthia Underwood

  • Published
  • By Maj. Ashley Walker
  • 913th Airlift Group

Chief Master Sgt. Cynthia Underwood is the 96th Aerial Port Squadron superintendent since 2005 and will retire after 33 years of active duty and Reserve service.  “While growing up in Del Rio, Texas, I would frequently see Airmen from Laughlin Air Force Base. The first thing I noticed was their uniforms and how they represented something bigger to me, something I wanted to be a part of,” said Underwood. After 10 years of active duty service she separated and worked in the private sector, but shortly returned to the Reserve. “I missed what I got from active duty, the feeling of patriotism, so I put the uniform back on,” she said.

In 1996, Underwood joined the Reserve and was assigned to the 96th APS at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.  She worked up the ranks and became the Superintendent, representing more than 125 Airmen and advocating for support, equipment and training while the unit was geographically separated. Once the 913th Airlift Group was activated at LRAFB, Underwood was instrumental in forming the parent organization, guiding the newly appointed leaders while still managing the 96th APS.

Her leadership is demonstrated by the unit winning two Port Dawg Challenges and consistently ranking top three. In the 2019 challenge, Underwood “released” the Port Dawg trophy during the opening ceremony, despite debilitating medical complications. 96 APS is renowned for their professionalism proven through praise and accomplishments received by the unit while deployed. As Underwood sets to retire for medical reasons, she leaves an enduring legacy as living proof that every position in the military is open to anyone who is willing to work hard to get there.