COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – For one Department of the Army civilian assigned to the 100th Missile Defense Brigade, African American History Month is a time to reflect on the past, observe the present and look forward to the future.
Vivian Gordon is the executive assistant to the 100th Missile Defense Brigade commander. Her office space is adorned with photos of her family and herself with previous brigade Soldiers. There is a jar full of strawberry candies on her desk next to a plaque that reads “Vivian Gordon,” but she is affectionately known to Soldiers as “Miss Vivian.”
Her demure manner conceals her Army experience that spans six decades as a Soldier, military spouse, and civilian employee. She has lived and served at several duty stations, settling down in Colorado Springs after her husband retired from a 26-year Army career in the late 1990s.
Each February, she looks back on her Army service and heritage as an African American woman.
“It’s a time when Black Americans and others should take the opportunity to appreciate and research the intricate role of African Americans in the whole of American society and history,” said Gordon. “I find it to be a time for education, celebration, awakening, realization and gratitude of the achievements made by African American people as a part of this country.
Gordon said she appreciates the acknowledgment and understanding of the prominent role Black people played and continue to play in America.
“History finds us intertwined into most every impacting era,” she said, “as well as making major and significant innovative contributions of ingenuity in a multitude of social endeavors, including science, technology, engineering, mathematics, theology, arts, literature, athletics and politics.”
Gordon was born Vivian M. Bronson in South Haven, Michigan, but spent her childhood growing up in East St. Louis, Illinois. She joined the Illinois Army National Guard in February 1979 as a personnel specialist and transferred to the Regular Army as a quartermaster a year later.
“I kind of did things backward,” Gordon said of her transfer to active duty from the National Guard. “I wanted to get a taste of it before I jumped in headfirst, but ultimately I joined the military because I wanted to serve my country and travel to new and exciting places.”
Upon entry into the active Army, she was stationed at then-Fort Lewis, Washington, where she met fellow Soldier, Kevin Gordon, who she married shortly after. Vivian Gordon is a mother of five and remembers where she has lived and worked by the respective ages of her children at each stop.
She separated from service three weeks before the birth of the couple’s first son in 1982 when she and Kevin moved to Germany. They were stationed at Gablingen Kaserne, near Augsburg, where the growing family lived for nearly 10 years before transferring to Wiesbaden.
She joined the Department of the Army civilian program in 1985 as a warehouse worker but left before the birth of her third son.
“It wasn’t a job that was conducive to carrying a child,” she remembered with a laugh. She rejoined the Department of Defense civilian corps in 1987 where she has served in some capacity ever since.
In 1997, the Gordons moved back to the United States and were transferred to Colorado Springs.
Her time at the 100th Missile Defense Brigade originated at the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command in 2005, where she worked as the executive assistant to the deputy commanding general at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.
She then moved to the brigade in 2014 where she has been ever since, serving as the executive assistant for five brigade commanders.
Gordon, who entered her 35th year of service to the DOD this year, said she is proud of her service and heritage, exemplified by the Army’s official observance of African American History Month every February.
“Our history extends into the conjoined prices paid to do so, along with the struggles and adversities married to it which cannot be ignored,” she said.
“However, it is a part of who we are. The achievements made by the people before us who blazed the trail. Not of hopelessness, but hope and inspiration for better, not bitter. For the commonality of respect, opportunity and acknowledgment of what we all add to life because of our individuality and differences. I believe that benefits us all in America.”