GRAY, Tenn. (WJHL) Only one percent of the entire Army force makes sergeant major.
“Pretty much unheard of in the state. It doesn’t happen everyday,” U.S. Army Sergeant Major Cindy Humphrey said.
However, on February 1, 2019, it did. Now Sergeant Major Cindy Humphrey holds this rare feat.
“Add to that being a female. I’m only the seventh female to make it in the state’s history. Now we have eight because there’s two of us now,” SGM Humprey said.
Humphrey joined the Army in 1982. She said she joined for two reasons: to give back to her community and for the education benefits.
Military also runs in her family.
SGM Humphrey said, “My dad was in the Navy for about five to six years. My brother was in the Navy for two.”
When it was her time to join, SGM Humphrey said she barely making the cut due to a height requirement of 4-foot-10 inches.
She explained, “I am 4 feet 10 and a half. So, I barely made the height requirement. I actually tried to get into the Marine Corps prior to that and didn’t make their requiremen. Their requirement was 5 feet, so the Marine Corps’ loss was the Army’s gain.”
She served active duty for ten years, eventually getting out in 1992 as a staff sergeant. She had a 10-year break and then rejoined the Tennessee National Guard in November of 2002. She is still serving currently as Sergeant Major in the Tennessee National Guard.
The New York native is currently in her 27th year of serving. Sergeant Major Humphrey recalls having the opportunity to visit various countries for work.
“I served five years at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, I served a year in Korea, and then I served four years at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Then I had my break, and then I joined the Tennessee National Guard. For about 11 years, I was in Northeast Tennesse. It’s been since 2013, I’ve been in Middle Tennessee, mainly in Nashville,” SGM Humphrey explained.
Her most memorable deployement was being in Iraq.
“Just to be able to give back to the Iraqi people, going over there and helping them rebuild their country and get their water supply back and their school systems back. It was very rewarding,” she said.
She gives credit to those who have stuck by her side.
“I couldn’t do anything without the good Lord above and my lovely wife. There’s no way I could do any of it without her,” SGM Humphrey said.
Since her return to the mainland, Humphrey has found ways to continue to give back to her fellow soldiers and community.
“I started off six years doing employment services, and then I just recently transitioned from the employment services to the Survivor Outreach Coordinator. That’s where I work with families of deceased service members,” she said.
She has added mentoring soldiers and assisting families of soldiers to her list.
“If it’s a calling that you have to serve your community, it’s one of the better ways to serve your community and actually get some great benefits for yourself as well,” she explained. “We help them with resources. If they need bereavement resources, financial resources or just somebody to talk to. That’s what we’re here for. We outreach to them every year. The one biggest thing that the survivors want is they don’t want their family members to ever be forgotten. So we always want to speak their name.”
She does not consider her a hero, but to many others she is.
“I just do what I do just to be out there and help people,” SGM Humphrey said.
Humphrey is part of many organizations in her community. Here are just a few:
- Girls Inc. of Kingsport
- Women Matter of Northeast Tennessee
- Association of U.S. Army chapter president
- Employers Support of the Guard and Reserve
- LPGA Ammeters of Kingsport
If you know someone who makes our community a better place to live, we want to hear from you.