Tulare veteran has storied career stitched in history

Tulare native David Cisneros will be honored at the Tulare County Fair after returning home after years in military aircrafts and deployments

TULARE – Local veterans are welcomed home in all sorts of ways, but Tulare’s David Cisneros will have his name stitched in history as a part of the Tulare County Fair’s annual Quilts of Honor ceremony.

From the Arabian Gulf to the Pacific Theater, Tulare-native commander Cisneros has flown above it all. Serving as an active member of the U.S. Navy since the ‘90s, Cisneros has finally retired. Upon his return to Tulare County after years of being away, Cisneros was nominated to be honored at the Tulare County Fair’s Quilt of Honor ceremony this month, according to co-chair of the Valley Oak Quilt Guild Donette Silva Carter. 

Cisneros packed his bags for the United States Naval Academy in 1990 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1995. He also completed primary naval aviation training around this time with the VT-3 “Red Knights.” On Sept. 3, 1999, he was designated as a naval aviator.

“My first days in the Navy were a blur, I left Tulare in August of 1990 and it feels like just yesterday,” Cisneros said. “I remember being excited and anxious, not knowing what was in store for me for the next few years.”

Cisneros’ first mission was as a helicopter combat support in Yigo, Guam. He went through several deployments before being assigned as Air Officer for USS Ponce. During this time he was qualified as officer of the deck underway, where he managed the safe navigation of the ship, as well as the execution of daily tasks. This position is the direct representative of the ship’s captain and is an integral part of the ship’s function.

Cisneros then went on a tour as officer-in-charge and served with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two One. In 2009, he became part of the NATO Joint Forces Command and was the lead exercise planner, “for several NATO and multinational joint exercises,” according to his retirement program. This was all completed before he served two tours in Afghanistan, where he was a senior advisor to the Afghan Ministry of Interior Inspection. During these tours, he was in charge of improving reporting and investigations, as well as combat corruption. 

“Every person who serves regardless of what level and what battle they may or may not have been in is somebody that we need to thank in the military,” Carter said. “When you see someone who is from your community and gets to that achievement level, you definitely want to say thank you.”

Cisneros has been deployed more than a few times throughout his career. He has been sent to Southeast Asia, deployed to Afghanistan twice, has been to the Persian Gulf “several times on different ships,” the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Horn of Africa and East Timor, to name a few. His deployments were mixed with flying tours as a helicopter pilot, the ship’s company and in-country tours to Afghanistan. His final unit was Naval Air Station Corpus Christi serving as Executive Officer.

“Deployments are always more difficult for our families,” Cisneros said. “My wife, Cyndi, carried the family through all of the most challenging periods, she is the only reason we were able to thrive as a family over the course of almost seven years of separation due to deployments.”

During deployments, Cisneros said he would record messages of himself reading books for his children. Over the years, he was able to begin video-calling them as technology improved. Being busy during his deployments helped ease the pain of separation, according to Cisneros. Cisneros said he was “happy to serve” and will have the friends he made along the way forever.

Carter brought the idea of honoring veterans through quilting to the county fair. Quilters will make ornate blankets for the veterans as a way to extend their appreciation. To be honored in the ceremony, a person must be nominated. Carter first heard about Cisneros’s extensive military career from his mother, and it was a “no-brainer” to nominate him, according to Carter.

“His mom popped into the office and she was just talking about her son,” Carter said. “She had a copy of the brochure from his retirement party, and we’re looking at this going, ‘Wow, this guy is amazing; this Tulare kid and what he has accomplished in the military by being at that level of command.’”

Cisneros is one of twenty vets that will be honored in the ceremony. The quilts are presented as a gift at the Tulare County Fair. Their first Quilts of Honor ceremony was in 2017, making this year their 5th annual ceremony.

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