B United: Courtney Gunning, U.S. Air Force

This month’s B United sponsored soldier is the amazing, Courtney Gunning! Thank you for the sacrifices you have made to serve our country! And a huge thank you to the sponsors of the B United project - Isopure, Nutsack Foods, Honeyville, and Lake Harriet Community School!

1.     Name: Courtney Gunning

2.     Age: 26

3.     Hometown: Sacramento, CA

4.     Family: No children or fur babies yet, but I plan on adopting a fur baby once I am done with my deployment 😊

5.     Branch: U.S Air Force

6.     Job Title: Information Operations Officer

7.     Job Description: Analyzing the effects and the influence of information on the human cognitive domain

8.     Enlist Date: July 2011

9.     What motivated you to join the military? I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, and find a way to give back to this amazing country.

10.  Are or were any of your family members in the military? If so, who and what branch? Many of my family members were/are in the military. Definitely a military family! My dad and my brother are U.S Navy, and my mom and I are U.S Air Force. Both my of my grandfathers served as well (U.S Air Force and U.S Army) – one of them in WWII. 

11.  Why did you choose this branch? The U.S Air Force mission fascinated me and presents many unique opportunities that the other branches don’t have. Also, who doesn’t love to see some awesome air power every day!

12.  Tell me a little about your time in boot camp. I have been through two basic trainings: one in 2011 and one in 2012 when I attended the U.S Air Force Academy Prep School and then the U.S Air Force Academy. Basic training was very tough, but so rewarding. The experience of basic training teaches you to dig deep, be resilient, rely on and trust your classmates, and become a stronger individual than you were before.

13.  Where have you traveled to while in the service? I have had AMAZING opportunities to travel since I commissioned as an officer in 2016. I have been to Louisiana, Arizona, Washington D.C, Hawaii, Florida, Missouri, Germany, England, South Carolina, Colorado, and Qatar.

14.  What are some things you miss most about home when you are deployed? I miss my family and friends so much. I am very close with them and they are such a key foundation and support to my success. I wish I could give them a hug! Honestly, I also miss the healthier food choices. Being deployed, and depending on where you’re deployed to, you never know what is actually in your food. I can’t wait to cook again 😊

15.  Which medals or citations are you most proud to have earned and why? I am most proud of my three HQ Air Force level awards within my career field. These are the highest level within my career field. I worked so hard for them, but truly, I was given amazing opportunities by my mentors and supervisors who gave me opportunities to shine. I couldn’t have done it without them, or my family.

16.  What rank are you most proud to have earned and why? I am most proud of promoting from a cadet at the U.S Air Force Academy to a Second Lieutenant. While a Second Lieutenant is only the first, and lowest rank as an officer – I was so proud to have finished my time at the U.S Air Force Academy and see all of my hard work pay off and become an officer. Such a rewarding feeling!

17.  What are some of the biggest challenges of being a woman in the military? Some of the biggest challenges that we face have to do with being in a career field that is primarily men. Women need to work harder to have their voice not only heard, but considered. Luckily, the culture in our world is changing and empowering women to lean in, take action, and lead. I have become so much stronger – because I have HAD to become stronger. I make my opinions known, I speak up when I know I need to, and I make sure that my voice is heard.

18.  Tell me about some of the special people you have met. I had the opportunity to meet previous President Barrack Obama at my graduate from the U.S Air Force Academy. He’s so nice and has a great handshake!

19.  Do you plan to retire in the military? Or what are your post-military plans? It’s still up in the air for me! I love what I am doing right now and I plan on staying in. My post-military plans definitely include a lot of traveling 😊

20.  How has your service and experiences affected your life? Being in the Air Force has given me so much confidence in myself and my abilities. Not only confidence, but resiliency. Now, when I am faced with a challenge, either personal or professional, I am able to channel my confidence and resiliency to overcome it. The opportunities that I have had in the military are incomparable. 

21.  What do you like to do for fun? I love going out to fun bars, having wine nights, and just relaxing with my best friends. I have three best friends, and because we are all in the Air Force, I spend a lot of time traveling to see them! I also love to work out, cook food, and relax watching reality TV shows!

22.  How do you stay in shape? I really like the Bikini Body Guide workouts by Kayla Itsines. She does a great job at making the workouts fun, but I have also had great results from them.

23.  What makes you feel strong? Being able to do a workout I didn’t think I could do, or crush my PRs on a workout.

24.  Favorite part of your job: The ability to use my undergraduate degree, Behavioral Sciences, every day. I love to analyze the human mind and the cognitive effects that information can have on it. Fascinating!