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NEWS | Nov. 4, 2014

TRADOC civilian, former CSM retires after 40 years of combined Army service

By Senior Airman Kimberly Nagle 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

In 1967, a U.S. Army recruiter asked 18-year-old Peggy Tighe if she wanted to take a test. She didn't have any reason not to, so she took it.

The results landed her a job as a stenographer in the Woman's Army Corps. All the self-proclaimed introvert had to do was graduate from Advanced Individual Training school and the job was hers.

"At graduation, this introvert did not realize they were calling my name as the distinguished graduate until the person next to me was telling me, it was me," she said. "I was so stunned at the honor and the fact that I was promoted from an E-1 to E-5 as a result."

It was then when she decided that if she worked hard enough, good things may happen, and they did, beyond any expectation she could have ever dreamed.

After graduation, her first duty assignment put her at the Pentagon.

"I was 18 years old, and working at the Pentagon," said Tighe. "This was during the time of multiple riots after the shooting of Martin Luther King Jr., which my office dealt with." 

About ten years into her career, in October 1978 the Women's Army Corps merged with the U.S. Army.

"I didn't really feel the merger too much," Tighe said. "A lot of the women around me decided to get out when it happened, [but] I wanted to continue my career and [see] where it would take me."

Her career took her to drill sergeant duty.

She saw this duty as life-changing. There was no desk to sit behind; she had to train the next generation of Soldiers.

"I was able to make civilians into Soldiers," she said. "I was there to help."

"If I had it my way, every Soldier would be a drill sergeant at least once in their career," she added. "You get to see huge results. You get to see the new Soldiers graduate."

After completing her duty as a drill sergeant, she promoted to a first sergeant, working with drill sergeants and supervising.

"Holding this position as a woman was very rare at that time. It was a tough job, mentoring noncommissioned officers to do the best they can," said Tighe. "I had an extremely supportive sergeant major, which made things easier."

She was eventually promoted to command sergeant major, commanding the reception station at a basic training base.

"I was held to a much higher standard," said Tighe. "There were not many women in my position. When I went to sergeants major school, there were nine women out of 250 Soldiers in my class."

In 1990, Tighe became the command sergeant major at Fort Monroe, Virginia, which served as her final assignment before retiring after 23 years of service.

While enjoying retirement, Tighe received phone call in 1991 from a friend telling her she has a job lined up for her working in Army civilian personnel.

Tighe was hesitant at first, but thought, "why not serve the Army again?"

She worked in civilian personnel for more than four years. In 1995, she received yet another phone call, offering her a job to become a part of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command equal employment office, which she accepted.

In her new position, she performed duties including counseling, processing equal employment opportunity complaints, developing reports, conducting training and administrative duties. She was soon named TRADOC diversity office director, responsible for ensuring Soldiers, civilians and family members are treated with respect and work in an environment free from any form of discrimination, harassment and reprisal.

"This is job is a good fit for me," said Tighe. "I did a lot of counseling as a drill sergeant, as a first sergeant and a sergeant major. I learned a lot of great skill sets doing that, and in this job it is all about hearing both sides of the story and taking care of the people. For me, it has been absolutely terrific."

After more than 40 total years serving the Army as a Soldier and a civilian, Tighe said she can't help but reflect and feel proud of the Army that transformed the quiet introvert into the woman who has held her head high through years of motivating, helping and teaching Soldiers.

As Veterans Day approaches, Tighe said she sees it as a day to appreciate those members of the military who have sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom.

"I admire anyone who serves. I think it changes lives," she said. "I think every young person should serve in the military."