Navy instructor receives by giving

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Heather Heiney
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
While turning 35 is an event that some people may dread, one Keesler instructor spent that birthday beginning a life journey - Day One of Navy boot camp.

Petty Officer 1st Class Cynthia Burton, Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit instructor, said that when she decided to enlist in March 1993, people told her she was too old and too set in her ways to make it. While her experience has had its challenges, she said that her greatest accomplishment has been to make it work.

Later that year, Burton attended the aerographer's mate course here at Keesler and is currently teaching the same course at her original schoolhouse.

The students begin their weather training in a joint environment with Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps students. After 36 training days, the students separate into service specific portions of instruction. Burton teaches between four and 10 Navy students at a time for an additional four blocks over 25 training days.

"Every day is different," Burton said. "It's not unusual for a day to be 11-12 hours long"

Physical training, paperwork, classroom instruction, one-on-one mentoring and collateral duties can make for a long workday, and that doesn't include the days she has to stand duty at the dorms for 24 hours.

"Her students excel from her impeccable instructional techniques and they go on to pass those treasures on to others in the fleet. Her students know her, follow her, and most of all they respect her," Senior Chief Petty Officer James Green, Burton's department head, said.

Some of Burton's collateral duties include Command Community Service coordinator, First Class Petty Officers' Association Officer, Command Diversity Team Member, Command Assessment Team Member, Sexual Assault Victim's Advocate, Assistant Anti-terrorist and Force Protection Officer and Command Morale, Welfare and Recreation Committee Officer.

"The students make it the best duty you can pull in the Navy," Burton said.

She said that her students have always been eager to help out with volunteer projects around the base and in the community. She said that all she has to do is mention there's a need and the students want to be right there with her making a difference.

"Her influence has made a clear and lasting difference in the way our young Sailors and Marines choose to invest their off-duty time and embrace future volunteerism and civic responsibility," said Cmdr. Angie Walker, CNATTU commanding officer.

Burton said that she was humbled when she was named 2011 Thomas V. Fredian Community Leadership Excellence Award winner at Salute to the Military, Oct. 25.

"I had been able to talk to the nominees and was amazed by their accomplishments and for my name to be called out - wow," Burton said.

"I have lived my life as my family taught me -- to give is better than to receive -- and I have tried to pass this on to those with whom I serve," Burton said.