SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (March 13, 2019) - U.S. Army Central marked Women's History Month at Patton Hall March 13 to recognize the contributions of female Soldiers who answered the call to serve our nation.

Women have played vital roles in the U.S. Army since the Revolutionary War. Since 1987, the United States has formally recognized March as National Women's History Month.

USARCENT was honored to have Command Sgt. Maj. Lynice D. Thorpe-Noel, a native of Nashville, North Carolina, and the first female to serve as the senior enlisted advisor for U.S. Army Human Resources Command, as the guest speaker for the ceremony.

"Today we celebrate the long list of achievements and accomplishments by many women who contributed greatly to our history," said Thorpe-Noel. "Together, we must work to educate, enable and empower each other for an even brighter future."

"I am truly grateful for all the women who have fought for their rights in the past," said Capt. Angela Smith, commander for Intelligence and Sustainment Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, USARCENT. "They were persistent in doing what is right, despite difficulty and overcame and achieved great things. Because of them, I have the chance to serve in the military. I do not take this lightly and continue to strive to become a better officer every day."

Honoring women, past and present, Soldiers and civilians were able to deepen their understanding of how far women have advanced, both in the military and in society.

"I could go on for a long time about the contributions women have made to the Armed Forces; from Margaret Corbin, Dorothea Dix, to the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps," said Sgt. Maj. Roger Rendon, the human resources senior enlisted advisor, USARCENT. "Today I remember leaders like Sgt. Leigh Hester, the first female Silver Star recipient, Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, the first female four-star general and Capt. Kristen Griest, one of the first women to earn the Army Ranger Tab. Women are the history of the Armed Forces, and a part of American history as a whole."

Observing this annual commemoration also provided the opportunity to educate and honor the value of equality and equal opportunity.

"During my military career, I have been given the opportunity to serve in key positions at all levels," said Thorpe-Noel. "I've always had the support I needed in the formation. I never felt like I was looked at differently for being a female as I rose through the ranks."

2nd Lt. Tiffany E. Smalls, executive officer for I and S Company, HHBN, USARCENT, is proud to be part of a team that honors this annual observation.

"Being able to work side-by-side with my brothers-in-arms is a great feeling," said Smalls. "For years women have fought for equality. Being in an organization that is growing and evolving for the betterment of women makes me excited for the future of this organization."

Along with serving in every military rank, from private to general, and in varying roles from support operations to the front lines on the battlefield, women were responsible for developing a future force and grooming young Soldiers into the military leaders we have today.

"Women have played an integral part in broadening, shaping and changing the Armed Forces," said Rendon. "I honor them as Soldiers because they have been instrumental in my development. One of the best noncommissioned officers I ever had was Staff Sgt. Shawna Price-Torres. She taught me what an NCO should be. Without her, I do not know if I would have stayed in."

Thorpe-Noel also emphasized the importance of educating our nation's female youth and encouraging them to pursue their aspirations.

"We must empower young women to realize their goals, where little girls with dreams can become women with vision," said Thorpe-Noel. "We have the ability to empower them to make lasting impacts in their communities and create a legacy that inspires them to dream more, do more and become more."

USARCENT is proud of today's female Soldiers and values their contributions to the Army's missions.

More than 175,000 women serve in the total U.S. Army force, including the active component, the Army Reserve, and the National Guard. With more than 750 of those female soldiers serving in combat arms specialties, the Army has fully integrated women into all military career fields and is leveraging the strength of its high quality, diverse force.