By Michelle SchneiderOctober 10, 2019
Retired Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody will receive the Association of Graduates Thayer Award Oct. 10. The award was established in honor of the "Father of the Military Academy" Col. Sylvanus Thayer and is presented to an outstanding member of society whose accomplishments exemplify the military's motto, "Duty, Honor, Country."
Gen. Dunwoody is the first woman in U.S. history to become a four-star general in November 2008. She passionately dedicated over 37 years of her life to military service in the Army. With this level of commitment, her career was filled with prolific responsibilities and accomplishments.
One of Dunwoody's most notable experiences throughout her career was managing the Army Materiel Command which equips and supplies soldiers. AMC is one of the largest global logistics commands in the world and employs more than 69,000 people from all 50 states and 145 countries.
Dunwoody managed a budget of over $60 billion toward service contracts, research and development, installation and contingency contracting, foreign military sales, and the Army's global supply chain management in support of war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Apart from her prestigious accomplishments, Dunwoody has many favorite jobs throughout her military career. She shared it was an incredible opportunity to be paid to jump out of planes as the Parachute Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in 1975, a memory that stands out the most to her.
"I was thrilled when I got selected. It didn't happen much for women back then in the army, so it was a very exciting and enjoyable job. It's the stand out in my mind," Dunwoody said.
It may be hard to believe that Dunwoody did not originally plan an Army career, especially with three-generations of Army servicemembers in her blood lineage that served before her.
She was commissioned through a college program that recruited women to join after the Vietnam War. Dunwoody gave the Army a 2-year commitment in exchange for an education when she attended the State University of New York College at Cortland.
She originally felt being a Soldier was simply a short detour on her way toward becoming a physical education teacher. Since childhood, one of her aspirations was to coach because she loved to play sports.
Dunwoody stayed in the military because she loved being a Soldier and leading them. When asked about what leadership principles and strategies she can share with cadets at West Point, this became more evident.
"Come to work trying to make things better for the troops and find ways to make their lives better. Try to keep that on your radar screen. Be compassionate. If you do, they will follow you anywhere," Dunwoody said. "Always do the right thing, every day, for the right reason. It may sound like it's easy, but it's not. It doesn't matter if you're a platoon leader or a battalion commander or a four-star general."
A long and extensive career in the Army will have its highs and lows, but in order to reach Dunwoody's level of success, she shared how future leaders can adhere to a set of personal values, ethics and principles like the ones outlined in her book, "A Higher Standard." At the core of it all, she said having a positive impact is the best way to make a difference.
Dunwoody is a fourth-generation Army servicemember with her great-grandfather, grandfather, father and brother all being West Point graduates. Although she did not attend West Point, she will be honored through a different circumstance at the Thayer Award ceremony.
Dunwoody will speak to cadets at the Mess Hall today and will share life lessons that she believes are not recipes for success but may help them in the future.
"I hope they take away that this Army and the one they are about to enter when they finish their education at West Point is a noble and very important profession," Dunwoody said. "I hope each one of them are as passionate about it as I was. I believe that if they find their passion in the military, then there will be no better organization. It is valued-based and has all of the tools to make a difference and an impact on the world in any capacity."