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Stories of Honor: Cynthia Cohan

Stories of Honor: Cynthia Cohan

From the Collection: Stories of Honor series

Cynthia Cohan


Colonel, United States Air Force


 After graduating from Montana State University in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Cynthia Cohan was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and reported for technical intelligence training. She began work at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin as a defense systems analyst, and quickly discovered a knack for computer systems.

 In 1984 she reported to Headquarters, Tactical Air Command at Langley Air Force Base. She worked on systems related to automated messaging, surveillance and other intelligence areas.

 In a three-year posting at U.S. European Command at Stuttgart, Germany, she worked on advanced systems, including early UAVs and radar imagery.

 After attending squadron officer school, Cohan worked at Air Force Interagency Command at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. She began working on finance as well as systems, working on justifying systems funding and supporting congressional testimony.

 From 1990 to May 1993, Cohan worked at Air Staff Headquarters at the Pentagon, being promoted to major during that posting and obtaining a Master of Science in Management from Troy State University.

 Systems work included improving maintenance, communications and systems to support critical combat and noncombat intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

 Posted to the Air Education and Training Command; served as Operations Officer at the Air Force Intelligence School at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. Conducted bottom-up review to improve curricula, systems and educational delivery to reduce washout rate.

 U.S. Strategic Command, Omaha: worked on advanced systems — a precursor to 5G communications — and helped combat units with target imagery and dissemination, and also worked on nuclear program platforms, including the 3-D targeting for Cruise missiles.

 During that post also attended Joint and Combined Warfighting School at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia.

 In 1998, Cohan returned to Air Staff Headquarters, leading hundreds of personnel in development, compilation, justification and submission of $463 billion Air Force 2002-2007 budget. She also coordinated funding solutions, garnering $1.9 billion in emergency funds to support air operations in Kosovo.

 From 2000-2001, Cohan served with U.S. Forces Korea, developing exercise planning and supporting other logistics.

 Cohan served as commander of the 10th Intelligence Squadron, the Black Knights, from June 2001 to June 2002, before, during and after 9/11, supporting Operation Southern Watch and Operation Enduring Freedom, performing combat support with U2 and Predator missions.

 From 2002-2003, Cohan studied at the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., earning a Master of Science in National Security Strategy from the National Defense University.

 Cohan returned to U.S. Strategic Command where she was promoted to full colonel and commanded the Joint Intelligence Center.

 From 2006-2008, Cohan was at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, where she was commander of the 26th Air Intelligence Squadron, merged into the 613th Air Operations Center. She served as chief of the intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance division.

 Cohan retired in 2009 after more than 27 years of active duty.


 Member, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1448

 Active with Marine Corps League

 Active in Toys for Tots campaign

 Has been caregiver to several World War II veterans

For photo “Cohan Basic Training 1981” have caption say - Cohan in basic training, 1981

For Photo “Cohan Change of Command” have caption say - Cohan is honored at a Change of Command ceremony at Langley Air Force Base in 2002.

For Photo “Retirement Pin Cohan” have caption say - Cohan’s brother Robert Cohan pins on her retirement pin, 2009.


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