SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Heidi J. Hoyle, commanding general of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, pinned on the rank of Major General during a promotion ceremony Friday at the event center here. U.S. Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, commander, U.S. Transportation Command, officiated the ceremony.
Though ceremony attendance was limited due to COVID-19 safety protocols, numerous distinguished guests attended the ceremony, including Air Force Lt. Gen. Brian S. Robinson, deputy commander of Air Mobility Command, and Command Fleet Master Chief Donald Myrick, USTRANSCOM’s senior enlisted leader.
Also joining Hoyle at the ceremony were several members of her immediate family, including husband Dr. Demetrious Cleotelis, parents Mike and Edie Hoyle from Lupton, Michigan, and her brother, Jeff Hoyle.
Additionally, about a dozen members of Hoyle’s 1994 West Point class were on hand to provide their support.
“Heidi is officially the youngest 2-star in the U.S. Army and the first from her West Point class to attain 2-star rank,” said Lyons.
Hoyle, who assumed command in June 2020, is SDDC’s fourth female commanding general. While she is proud of that, Hoyle says it’s not something she focuses on. In fact, her career serves as an example of how the Army selects the best qualified Soldiers, regardless of gender, for each job.
During Hoyle’s assumption of command, Lyons remarked that Hoyle is “unquestionably the best leader for SDDC at this time in our nation’s history,” and continued his praise during Friday’s ceremony.
“I can tell you that her leadership is authentic,” said Lyons. “It’s clear she serves with a greater purpose, embracing discipline and sacrifice for others. She’s a straight-shooter that exemplifies mutual respect, which is the basis for empowerment of high-performing organizations.”
Hoyle’s military story starts in her hometown of Bay City, Michigan, where she was recruited to swim for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Hoyle said that joining the USMA team provided an opportunity to swim for a Division I school, not incur school-loan debt, and live in New York.
More than three decades later, she still keeps the original recruiting letter that started her down the path of military service and considers October 10th, 1988 – the date she received the letter – one of two exceptionally important dates in her career.
Hoyle said the second significant date marks the end of her career, but refers to it as “to be determined.”
“The ‘to be determined’ date is still open-ended and that is because I’m still having fun,” said Hoyle. “I want to continue to lead. I love leading Soldiers, I love leading with our Joint services, I love leading civilians, and I will plan to do so as long as the Army will have me.”
Since graduating from West Point in 1994 as an Ordnance officer, Hoyle has served in many diverse leadership positions throughout her career.
Initially branch-detailed to the Chemical Corps, she served her first assignment as a Battalion Chemical Officer in Germany. Since then, she has served at every level of command from company to brigade, and is now in her third commanding general billet.
Her key assignments include: commander, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, Fort Stewart, Georgia; commander, 71st Explosive Ordinance Disposal Group, Fort Carson, Colorado; executive officer to the executive deputy of Army Materiel Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama; and commanding general, Joint Munitions Command and Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.
Prior to taking command of SDDC, Hoyle served as the Chief of Ordnance and Commandant of the U.S. Army Ordnance School at Fort Lee, Virginia.
Hoyle was the first EOD officer to hold the commandant position, and only the second female to do so in the Ordnance Corps’ 208-year history. Despite these and other notable accomplishments, Hoyle remains humble and focused on the mission and taking care of people.
At SDDC, she has maintained that focus. Taking command during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, she implemented procedures to maintain an appropriate balance between risk to force and risk to mission, ensuring both SDDC’s mission and the safety of its worldwide Surface Warrior workforce were well taken care of.
Lyons sees Hoyle’s career continuing and her “to be determined” date being further delayed.
“Heidi understands the number one rule of leadership – you’ve got to love the Soldiers that you lead,” said Lyons. “I predict that this will not be the last time we add stars to Heidi’s shoulders.”