Col. Mary T. Gardner Retires
By Capt. Dylan Hollums, 188th Wing
/ Published July 13, 2021
Ebbing Air National Guard Base, Ark --
Col. Mary T. (Tenise) Gardner, 188th Mission Support Group commander, retired in a formal ceremony here July 8, 2021.
Gardner served more than 30 years in the military. For the last nine years, she served as the commander of the 188th Mission Support Group and also as a valued leader and mentor to the more than 350 of the group’s Airmen and officers. The event was presided over by Brig. Gen. Tamhra L. Hutchins-Frye.
“Tenise Gardner has always been a loving leader that loves her Airmen like her children and each of you know it, because you love her back. “Hutchins-Frye reminded the audience. “You had a great ride, I was lucky to have been able to serve with you. Your legacy will live with the women and men you touched along the way.”
Gardner first enlisted as an information management specialist in the 188th Fighter Wing in 1987 and also worked in the wing’s public affairs office. She received her commission in 1991 as the military equal opportunity officer and later served as the 188th Communications Flight commander. Prior to joining the Arkansas Air National Guard full time, she taught in Oklahoma public elementary schools.
As the 188th Mission Support Group commander, she led more than 350 Airmen in various career fields such as security, civil engineering, and logistics to provide base operating support to the wing.
In addition to her official retirement papers, Gardner was presented with numerous awards, citations, and accolades earned during her distinguished years of service including a Legion of Merit medal for her exceptional performance of outstanding service to the United States and the Arkansas Distinguished Service medal.
Gardner spoke of the importance of her service to the country and thanked her family for their unquestioned support. She recalled many missed holidays, birthdays and sport events.
“I’ve just been truly blessed to part of such an amazing team.” Gardner expressed. “Thank you for your support, you’ve always been there for me.”
She will return to her true passion of teaching and is eagerly looking forward to welcoming back students this fall at the Liberty School near Roland, Okla.