TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Imagine growing up abroad, visiting various places, and then becoming a member of the U.S. Air Force and embracing its culture. This was the case for Master Sgt. Martha Dunning, AFNORTH standards and evaluations manager, and this week’s unsung hero.
Born and raised in Colombia until the age of 7, Dunning is the eldest of four children and the first member of her family to join the Air Force.
The Torrance, California native is currently in her 15th year of enlistment. She has six years of prior active-duty Air Force service. Her subsequent years of service have been primarily as a proud member of the Florida Air National Guard.
Dunning is a graduate of Torrance High School. She attended El Camino College for a year prior to enlisting. She has also earned a bachelor’s degree in instructional systems design through Southern Illinois University.
“Education has always been important to me so I encourage my sons to have a positive outlook when it comes to obtaining knowledge and learning,” Dunning said. “It’s challenging, but we teach our children the importance of service to our country. They know they are my purpose, and that everything I do, I do for them.”
Dunning’s primary position is as an aerospace control and warning systems specialist. When not performing duties as a “one charlie five” (1C5) or standards and evaluations manager, she leads her unit’s Combined Enlisted Association as its president.
“The Combined Enlisted Association is a group which meets monthly with the goal of providing members with resources for development, enrichment and organizational leadership opportunities,” Dunning said. “We discuss topics that reflect day-to-day challenges, such as priority management, stress management, and conflict resolution.
“Considering April is sexual assault awareness month, we’re looking forward to having a representative from the sexual assault prevention and response office offer a more in-depth look at the severity of sexual assault and how to handle its unique circumstances,” Dunning said.
Dunning will also be an implementer of the Green Dot program, a new Air Force program that prepares others to implement a strategy of violence prevention that reduces power-based, interpersonal violence, which includes not only sexual violence, but also domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, child abuse, elder abuse and bullying.
In the past, Dunning has also served as the honor guard manager for the 601st Air Operations Center Color Guard Team and as a member of the Tyndall Honor Guard Team.
“I was awarded the opportunity to be a part of the honor guard team on Tyndall as an airman 1st class,” she said. “Some aspects that appealed to me the most were the uniforms and the demonstration of discipline and character by its members; just like the time when I was a young girl witnessing a very similar ceremony in Colombia. These were the same characteristics that drew me to become an Airman.”
In her spare time, Dunning participates in physical exercise activities which she uses to maintain a positive lifestyle and attitude.
“I love to be outdoors and be physically active. I am part of an awesome gym on the beach,” Dunning said. “It’s family owned and filled with pretty wonderful people whom I consider part of my extended family.”
“My advice to all Airmen is to focus on your ‘why,’” Dunning said. “You can pretty much endure anything if you remember why you’re doing it. There are times when you may get frustrated and or upset, but sometimes those are the things you need to push you and to prepare you for even greater opportunities.”