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    Single mom lives to serve others

    312th Engineers keep it in the family

    Photo By Timothy Hale | Staff Sgt. Angela Cunningham, with the U.S. Army Reserve 312th Engineer Company, based...... read more read more



    Story by Timothy Hale  

    U.S. Army Reserve Command

    CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - There are not many days that Staff Sgt. Angela Cunningham doesn’t smile.

    She said that people always assume that she never has a bad day because she smiles so much. But Cunningham said, even she has bad days. But even the bad times can be overcome with the help of friends and family.

    “People always think I’m happy,” Cunningham said. “People think that I never have a bad day because I’m always smiling. People should know that I have bad days too. But nothing is so bad that you can’t work through them.”

    Born into a military family with an Air Force mother and an Army father, Cunningham was born in Inkster, Michigan.

    When she was 2-years-old, the family moved to Fort Bragg, N.C. Subsequent moves to Mannheim, Germany and Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, eventually led them back to Fort Bragg in 1995.

    While at Bragg, she attended Southview High School, until the 10th grade before moving back to Michigan.

    Cunningham joined the Army as a split-op Army Reserve Soldier at the age of 17.

    After graduating from basic training and advanced individualized training at Fort Jackson, S.C., in 2000 Cunningham became an administrative specialist.

    Four years later, Cunningham married her high school sweetheart.

    But the marriage didn’t last. As she said, it was one of those “deployment-marriage horror stories.” In 2010, she and her husband divorced.

    She and her son, Joshua, now live in Duluth, Minnesota where she serves with the 312th Engineer Company as a Soldier and a unit administrator military technician.

    In between getting married and divorce, Cunningham mobilized at Fort McCoy in 2003 with the 6015th Garrison Support Unit, in Hurley, Wisconsin.

    “We were part of the last Lumberjack unit,” she said. “Our sawmill is at the museum in Fort Snelling, Minnesota. I actually saw it in operation for one year,” she said with pride.

    She later deployed to Camp Liberty, Iraq in 2009 with the 312th.

    Through it all, Cunningham earned a Licensed Practical Nurse degree from Gogebic Community College in Ironwood, Michigan and worked for five years at a nursing home as a Certified Nursing Assistant.

    Despite some personal difficulties she has experienced, serving in the Army Reserve and being a single mother keeps her grounded.

    At the 312th, she is a horizontal construction engineer and also serves as the retention noncommissioned officer and is the unit liaison for the Family Readiness Group.

    “My child keeps me grounded,” Cunningham said. “Everything I do, I do for him. I like to show him that when you apply yourself to something you should stick it out.”

    She said being a military technician and a Soldier gives her the ability to care of him, better than she could have in a job outside of the military.

    Cunningham said being a single mother and the FRG liaison gives her a better understanding of the role the FRG plays especially in her unit.

    “The FRG started with four people but it has grown very, very large,” she said.

    She said there is coffee and donuts every morning at battle assembly. Sometimes, some of the Soldiers will donate anywhere from $20 to $40 to support the FRG.

    “They put in whatever they can give,” Cunningham said. “It speaks volumes about how the troops see the FRG.”

    Coming from a military family and being a single mother gives her an opportunity to share with other Soldiers ways to cope with military life. A task that she gladly takes to heart.

    “I share my experiences with them - through the divorce and the messy details - so they know that I know how hard it can be. We had a single mother (in the unit) and we would help each other out. She would need to go on orders so I would watch her children so she could re-class.”

    Cunningham said even the FRG leader has watched her son for her when she was on orders.

    “We all help each other,” she said. “I let the Soldiers and Families know they are not alone. Reenlisting is not something impossible to do as a family, even if you are single. A lot of our Soldiers are single (without children) but they still that support and I make sure they know it’s available.

    Ultimately, Cunningham said she gets satisfaction from helping others.

    “I like to help. I’m too much of a helper, sometimes. I can’t say no,” she said with a laugh. “I just like to help people. I volunteer at the VFW. I like to make sure my troops are taken care of.”

    Cunningham said it is the sense of family that drives her to help others and keeps her in uniform.

    “I see the Army as a family. I have friends from basic training and I’m still friends with them. It’s a big family,” Cunningham said.

    It is that sense of family that keeps Cunningham smiling, no matter what life throws at her and her fellow Soldiers that she cares for as if they were her own.



    Date Taken: 04.18.2015
    Date Posted: 04.28.2015 17:05
    Story ID: 161589
    Location: CAMP RIPLEY, MN, US 
    Hometown: DULUTH, MN, US

    Web Views: 616
    Downloads: 0