She became the first female infantry Soldier in the Cal Guard three years ago and hasn’t stopped making her mark. On Feb. 7, Sgt. 1st Class Cyndi Baltezore received the Order of Saint Maurice (OSM) medal at the Cal Guard’s Joint Forces Headquarters in Sacramento.
Awardees are selected by the OSM Board at the National Infantry Association using a vigorous vetting process to ensure recipients represent the highest standards of integrity, moral character, and professionalism.
“I definitely hope I’m not going to be the last to receive this award as a female infantryman. I know there are many other females who aspire to join the infantry. We’re here to fight for our county,” said Baltezore.
The OSM was created in 1995 by the United States Army and is named after the 3rd century leader of the Roman Theban Legion, Saint Maurice. Notable recipients include retired U.S. Army general and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Dale A. Dye, decorated retired U.S. Marine Corps captain and founder of Warriors, Inc.
To date, fewer than 5 percent of awardees have been female. Baltezore’s opportunity to serve in the infantry came as a result of the 2015 order from Army Defense Secretary to open all military assignments to women.
Since that time, this 16-year veteran and San Diego resident has been promoted to leadership roles above her peers, regardless of gender. Currently, she is an operations NCO with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
“It’s tough coming into the infantry as an 18 year old. She came into the field mid-career, proving she has the guts and determination to not only be an infantryman, but to lead infantrymen as we prepare for combat in a very demanding organization, the 1-185th Stryker Battalion,” said Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, the Adjutant General of the Cal Guard.
On the full-time side, Baltezore works for the Cal Guard’s Counterdrug Task force (CDTF), which supports local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies and community coalitions that have a counter-drug nexus as their primary purpose. CDTF’s support denies drug trafficking organizations the ability to conduct illegal drug operations within our state.
Baltezore spearheaded a safety program in her unit which was later established throughout the CDTS. The program is comprehensive and ensures the safety of all members throughout the state.
Other duties involve her leadership and instruction that encompass urban and rural reconnaissance, and troop-leading procedures.
Mrs. Julia Baltezore was also honored and received the Shield of Sparta, Heroine of Infantry award. This award recognizes spouses of Soldiers who have contributed significantly to supporting their Soldiers in ways that stand out in the eyes of the infantry leadership.
“Julia embodies the meaning behind this award,” said Sgt. 1st Class Baltezore. “She does the job of two people to care for our home and family when I am gone. She puts my career before her own and follows me where the military stations me,” continued Baltezore.
The couple met in 2014 and married in 2016. Julia, a microbiologist, works at UC Davis California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab.
“She is very dedicated and wants to go as far as she can,” said Julia regarding her wife’s achievement. “When Cyndi puts her mind to something, she definitely gets it done. … She worked really hard to get through infantry school and she is very proud to represent the women of the National Guard and in the infantry. I know this means the world to her so thank you for supporting her and honoring her.”
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Salli Sablan