Cantu retires after Air Force career in Air Traffic Control

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  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Master Sgt. Blanca Cantu retired from active duty during a ceremony held Nov. 27 in the 71st Operations Support Squadron auditorium.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Drost, former commander of the 71st OSS, officiated the ceremony.

The five questions at retirement:

Why did you join the Air Force?
Cantu: I was a young mother and two years after graduating high school, when my son was 4, I wanted to offer him a better life then the welfare system.

What’s the best memory of your first assignment?
Cantu: Receiving my first air traffic controller certification! When I signed up for air traffic, I had no clue what the career field was about. The training and demands it required made me feel extremely proud of that accomplishment.

What are three reasons you would recommend the Air Force as career?
Cantu: Benefits, school and family. The military in general has the best benefits to offer, from leave days acquired to basic allowance for housing and subsistence. Although I have not taken advantage of the free tuition, I highly recommend the service for those young civilians looking to get college credits. And last but not least, family -- not just your own family before the Air Force, but all the family you gain around the world at every assignment or deployment.

What advice would you give an Airman just starting their Air Force career?
Cantu: The Air Force gives you numerous opportunities. You have endless possibilities to make each and every assignment what you want. Search and find people and opportunities that will help you love what you do every day. The Air Force is an extended family, and in some cases your only family. Connect with each other. Reach out, and when you have found your happy place, take another Airman with you.

What is the biggest change you’ve witnessed in the Air Force?
Cantu: I’ve watched the Air Force become more sensitive to an individual’s needs rather than grouping everyone together. It’s a change process that I hope one day will satisfy our Airmen, their families and our move to become a recognizable Profession of Arms.