Retired U.S. Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody became the first female four-star officer rank in the history of the United States military in 2008. Dunwoody, who led Army Materiel Command, remained a pioneer throughout her decades-long service. In 1992, during the First Gulf War, sehe became the first woman to command a battalion in the 82nd Airborne Division.
Although she came from a family with four generations of military service, she had very little interest in serving in the military during her youth. However, during her junior year of college, Dunwoody attended a four-week Army introductory program that could be continued, with an eleven-week Women’s Officer Orientation Course, which then led to a two-year commitment. In 1975 she committed and became a 2nd lieutenant where she learned to jump from airplanes. It was then that she realized the army was “an organization that was as values-based as the family I came out of, and to find probably my real passion was soldiering. I just didn’t know it because I had never experienced it.”
Dunwoody’s first assignment was as a platoon leader with the 226th Maintenance Company, 100th Supply and Services Battalion. During her 30 years as a Quartermaster Corps officer she commanded the 226th Maintenance Company; 5th Quartermaster Detachment (Airborne); the 407th Supply and Service Battalion/ 782d Main Support Battalion (MSB); the 10th Mountain Division Support Command (DISCOM); the 1st Corps Support Command (1st COSCOM), the Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC)/Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), and the Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM).
Dunwoody’s major staff assignments include service as the Parachute Officer, 82nd Airborne Division; strategic planner for the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA); Executive Officer to the Director, Defense Logistics Agency; and Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics G-4.
From May 1989 to May 1991, Dunwoody served as executive officer and later division parachute officer for the 407th Supply and Transportation Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, at Fort Bragg and deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield/Operation Desert Storm. in 2001, As the 1st Corps Support Command Commander she deployed the Logistics Task Force in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 1 and stood up the Joint Logistics Command in Uzbekistan in support of Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF)-180. As Commander of Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), she supported the largest deployment and redeployment of United States forces since World War II. Dunwoody officially retired from the United States Army after 37 years on August 15, 2012.
Dunwoody was passionate in pushing for a decrease in sexual assault within the United States Army. She believed that the United States Army should set an example for the rest of the world and that they have “critical work left to do” in order to significantly decrease sexual assault, despite some progress.
Upon receiving her fourth star Dunwoody stated, “I have never considered myself anything but a soldier. I recognize that with this selection, some will view me as a trailblazer, but it’s important that we remember the generations of women, whose dedication, commitment and quality of service helped open the doors of opportunity for us today.”
(Sources include militaryhallofhonor.com, wikipedia, vfw.org)