WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 14, 2008) - Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody became the first female four-star general in the U.S. armed forces at a promotion ceremony Friday morning in the Pentagon.
"History will no doubt take note of [Dunwoody's] achievement in breaking through this final 'brass ceiling' to pin on this fourth star," Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said during opening remarks. "But she would rather be known and remembered first and foremost as a U.S. Army Soldier."
Gen. George W. Casey Jr., chief of staff of the Army, hosted the ceremony, praising Dunwoody as a "premiere logistician." He thanked her for her dedicated service to the Army, and wished her well.
"What's happening here today is something our Army can celebrate and take pride in," Casey said of her achievement.
Casey and Dunwoody's husband, Craig Brotchie, pinned on her new rank amidst applause and an enthusiastic "hooah" from the audience.
The promotion ceremony in the Pentagon auditorium was packed with well-wishers, friends and family. "We invited everyone but the fire marshal," Gates said to the standing-room-only crowd.
"Well, thank you," Dunwoody said with a smile after being promoted. "I wish I could begin to describe the incredible feelings of gratitude, humility, and love that are absolutely consuming me at this very moment. But it's impossible."
Dunwoody said she feels fortunate to have lived a life of firsts, and believes the promotion is "as overwhelming as it is humbling."
Dunwoody was the first woman to hold the deputy chief of staff position for the Army G-4 (Logistics), where she was responsible for ensuring warfighters had the necessary supplies and services, and that logisticians had the tools and equipment necessary to deliver those supplies and services to Soldiers around the world.
As the commander of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., from 2002-2004, Dunwoody supported the largest deployment and redeployment of U.S. forces since World War II.
She has also commanded the 407th Supply and Transportation Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; the 10th Mountain Division Support Command, Fort Drum, N.Y.; and the 1st Corps Support Command at Fort Bragg. She deployed during the first Gulf War with 82nd as the Division Parachute Officer from September 1990 to March 1991.
Dunwoody received a direct commission as a second lieutenant after graduating form the State University of New York at Cortland in 1975. She has graduate degrees in national resource strategy and logistics management. Her family has a long history of military service, including her husband, who is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel.
"This promotion has taken me back in time like no other event in my entire life. And I didn't appreciate the enormity of the event until the tidal wave of cards, letters and e-mails started coming my way," Dunwoody said.
"I've heard from moms and dads that see this promotion as a beacon of hope for their own daughters, and an affirmation that anything is possible through hard work and commitment," she said.
Dunwoody also received congratulations and expressions of excitement from female veterans of previous wars.
The promotion is the latest first for women in the military, dating back to 1970 when Brig. Gen. Anna Mae Hays was promoted the first female general officer in the U.S. military.
In addition to receiving her fourth star, Dunwoody also took command of U.S. Army Material Command, headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va., during an afternoon ceremony. As the commanding general, Dunwoody will oversee AMC headquarters' move to Huntsville, Ala., under the 2005 Base Realignment Act. Prior to taking command, she served as the deputy commanding general and chief of staff of AMC.
"Today is all about two simple words: thank you," Dunwoody said.
(Editor's note: Reports from AMC Public Affairs and Elizabeth M. Collins contributed to this article.)