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Former Combined Arms Support Command commanding general Maj. Gen. James E. Chambers, now U.S. Central Command director for logistics, and Dr. Patrick Bingham, husband, place the brigadier general rank on Gwen Bingham's shoulder epaulets on her new general officer jacket during a ceremony at the Lee Club April 22, 2011.

FORT LEE, Va., April 28, 2011 -- Hundreds packed the Lee Club to witness a longtime Fort Lee community member pin on her first star during a ceremony, Friday.

Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham celebrated her promotion to general officer in a standing-room-only crowd. Friends and family also stretched to an overflow room for those wanting to watch the ceremony. Bingham and her family have been part of the Fort Lee community for more than 10 years - since her first assignment as a battalion commander on post.

The day was wrought with historical significance. Bingham is the first female to serve as quartermaster general and the first female African-American Quartermaster Corps general. Being a first isn't unique for Bingham, she said, as she was the first female to serve as the Fort Lee garrison commander.

Maj. Gen. James E. Chambers, former Combined Arms Support Command, or CASCOM, commanding general, and now U.S. Central Command director for logistics, was the officiating officer for the ceremony, while Maj. Gen. James L. Hodge, current CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general, read Bingham her oath of office.

Also on hand to help promote Bingham were her family - husband Dr. Patrick Bingham, daughter Tava and son Phillip - and lifetime friend Esther Lee.

During the ceremony, Chambers noted the large crowd.

"One of the first things they told me when I pinned on my first star was 'Always remember, the general officer is selected, not elected,'" he said. "Well, this looks like an election here."

Bingham served with Chambers as his garrison commander at Fort Lee for a short time and then as his chief of staff at CASCOM.

"It's an honor and privilege (to help her pin on her first star)," said Chambers. "I owe so much - she kept me out of so much trouble during my time here. She's one of those great, great people who can deliver bad news in the most joyful way. She would come in sometimes with a devastating setback and I would feel good about it by the time she was done."

After pinning on her rank and reciting the oath of office, Bingham thanked the large crowd that gathered for attending.

"I cannot begin to tell you all how profoundly humbled and grateful I am to God, my family and all of you here for your love, your caring leadership, your encouragement and your friendship," she said. "This would not be happening without each of you who have touched my life in a profound way."

"To the folks who have taught, trained, coached, mentored, encouraged and inspired me to successes along my journey - all of you are special to me," she continued.

Bingham said wearing her first star felt fantastic.

"I'm very excited, very humbled and grateful,' she said. "General Chambers' remarks were wonderful and I really appreciated his being here along with General Hodge."

Bingham said her father, who served for more than 20 years in the Army and retired as a first sergeant, was on her mind during the ceremony. She thought both he and her mother, both deceased, would be proud of her.

"I was thinking about my dad upon whose shoulders I stand," she said. "He's probably the reason I'm standing here in uniform. I consider myself a chip off the old block."

During her career, Bingham said she never realized she wanted to be a general.

"Being a general officer isn't something you can really expect - because only about 1 percent of the Army population gets picked to be a general officer. It wasn't something I had my sights set on at all," she said. "I'm very humbled by the opportunity to continually serve. For me, I have more than 29 years in the service. If I hadn't been promoted to general officer, I would have been hanging up my spurs in August."

Page last updated Thu April 28th, 2011 at 00:00