By Marny MalinMarch 27, 2009
FORT BELVOIR, (Virginia) --Fresh from the farm she called home in Marion, S.C., 1st Sgt. Cynthia Moody joined the Army with a friend in 1987. She said she recognized the opportuniA,AA,Aties it afforded her. She also joined with the hope of beA,AA,Acoming a member of the Golden Knights, the Army's elite parachute performA,AA,Aance team.
The recruiter told her, alA,AA,Athough she might not be able to be a Knight, she could still be Airborne. After basic training, she was asA,AA,Asigned to the 82nd Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N. C. as a personnel specialist.
From there, she followed through on a series of goals she set for herself: becomA,AA,Aing a drill sergeant, earning three degrees and becoming a member of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club.
After deploying to Iraq with the 4th Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Moody began to contemplate what other opA,AA,Ations were available to her. At an NCO professional development session, a disA,AA,Acussion arose regarding first sergeant positions. When an opening in the Army Entertainment Detachment was menA,AA,Ationed, it was music to her ears. The Airborne sergeant was looking for a change.
She applied for the posiA,AA,Ation and got it. Since then, her feet have been planted firmly on the stage and unA,AA,Ader the spotlights. She is the second woman to lead the detachment as a first sergeant.
Because she and her sibA,AA,Alings were always busy with the chores around the farm, neither she nor other memA,AA,Abers of her family ever had time to be musically inclined. But, growing up, she exA,AA,Aperienced Christian and Gospel music and the songs of the South, which gave her an ear for and an apA,AA,Apreciation of music.
She also has a very hardA,AA,Aworking, can- do attitude. So the long days and nights and the physical nature of s e t t i ng up shows came easy.
So did the skills of hanA,AA,Adling her cast and crew. She is always present on the set or behind the scenes, making sure everyA,AA,Athing runs smoothly.
' During the initial deA,AA,Avelopment of the Soldier Show, it is imperative that you communicate with them. The days are long and the nights are short, support is the key to runA,AA,Aning a show successfully,' Moody said.
At a recent practice, she watched intently, then made specific sugA,AA,Agestions to the performers afA,AA,Ater the perA,AA,Aformance.
'Sometimes the Soldiers slip, fall, miss a line - all of those little mistakes that only we know about. The performance continues and, afterward, we all share a good laugh,' she said.
The support from the auA,AA,Adience, she said, is what lifts them when they need the energy to set up the next show. ' The best aspect of my job is to see the faces filled with excitement after the show ... then hearing the compliments and the g r a t i t u d e from Soldiers, families, friends and civilA,AA,Aians after each performA,AA,Aance ... that is rewarding,' Moody said.
Her own 11 siblings, mother and father someA,AA,Atimes watch the shows at Fort McPherson, Ga., and Fort Jackson, S. C. Her 16A,Ayear- old daughter, Raven, accompanies her to the Maryland, Virginia and New York performances.
Moody said she encourages her Soldiers to use the strategy that has worked for her: develop a plan of action, set achievable goals, conA,AA,As t a n t ly review the plan, stay focused on the future and never give up.
'I constantly counsel Soldiers. I focus on their well- being. I focus on the toA,AA,Atal Soldier and let them know I am there for them,' Moody said.
'The Army has enhanced my character, qualities, abilA,AA,Aities and inner strength. With each measure of sucA,AA,Acess, I feel my confidence grow and my knowledge inA,AA,Acrease. I mentor Soldiers keeping what I have learned in mind, and measuring my responses,' she said.
Moody has seen several Soldiers continue on in the entertainment field, joining the Army Band or Army Chorus.
Although the Soldier that makes it to national fame has yet to land, Moody continues on pursuA,AA,Aing rewarding and chalA,AA,Alenging personal goals and enabling Soldiers to attain theirs.