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One final 'Hooah:' Soldier who finds second calling in classroom hangs it up

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Posted at 9:38 AM, May 30, 2024

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Thursday is the end of an era for a soldier who found a second calling in the classroom.

After more than a decade of whipping JROTC cadettes into shape, Master Sgt. Margarita Bonner is ready to rest.

"It's time. It's time. I want to see new blood here. I want to spend some time with my family. I want to go fishing," Bonner said.

MSG (R) Margarita Bonner tells WPTV Anchor Hollani Davis her second calling as a teacher was a way to continue service to her country.jpg
Master Sgt. Margarita Bonner tells WPTV anchor Hollani Davis her second calling as a teacher was a way to continue service to her country.

As the only female instructor to lead a JROTC program in the entire School District of Palm Beach County, Bonner has always felt a since of pride and duty. But she admits she's changed a lot over 15 years.

"I came here as a soldier, rough and tough, ready to make everyone do sit-ups and push up and all this kind of craziness," Bonner said.

Her students said that while her career may have required her to be tough, she's been their cornerstone.

"She shows what women can do in this field and it's not only men," said Aliani Alonso, who just graduated Forest Hill Community High School.

Cynthia Rymer, who also recently graduated, agrees.

"She brought my motivation back up," Rymer said.

When the final school bell rings signaling retirement, Bonner hopes her lessons on leadership and excellence stick with the thousands of kids who've come through her ranks. She'll be watching.

"Jokingly I tell all of them, you have my cell phone number. And they say, yes, Master Sgt. I say, it's good for 20 years. I want to know how you're doing," Bonner said.