photo credit: Photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade

Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody: First female four-star general

February 21, 2019 - 4:45 pm

A member of the Dunwoody family has served in every American conflict since the Revolutionary War.  

It made perfect sense that Ann Dunwoody would too, just like her father, her grandfather and her great grandfather before her.

What was unlikely, when she joined, was that she - a woman - would rise to higher ranks than her father, a Brigadier General. 

But she did, and on November 14, 2008, Ann E. Dunwoody became the first woman in U.S. military history to achieve the rank of General, which came with three more stars. 

Photo by Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire

Dunwoody's trailblazing career started when she joined the Army after finishing college in 1974, and she was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Women's Army Corps in 1975.   Her first assignment was as a supply platoon leader, in the 100th Supply and Services Battalion (Direct Support), based at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Since then, she's served at every level of command, retiring in 2012, after 38 years in uniform, as the commander of the Army Material Command (AMC), one of the largest commands in the Army.  She oversaw 69,000 employees across 50 states and 145 countries.

Her colleagues marveled at her tenacity and legacy.

"It wasn't because you were a woman, it was because you were a brilliant, dedicated officer, and you were quite simply the best logistician the Army has ever had," said then-Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, who hosted Dunwoody's retirement.  "You have set the shining example for all Soldiers, especially our young leaders."

Photo by Sgt. Matthew Thompson

"You have shown pride in your units, you have challenged your subordinates, you have been loyal to your leaders, you have been a friend to your colleagues, and you have been a selfless servant to those who have been placed in your charge," Odierno said. "You have made every unit you have been in a better unit. Your legacy is clear."

Dunwoody was born in 1953 in Fort Belvoir, Virginia and raised an Army brat, moving all over the world following her father, an Army officer. 

In 1975, she graduated from State University of New York College at Cortland with a degree in physical education.

"I grew up in the Army and came from a family who, since 1862, has defended our nation. My great grandfather, my grandfather, my father, my brother, my sister, my niece and my husband are all veterans of this country’s wars. My father is a veteran of three wars and is one of the 25 million veterans living today who served the nation with such incredible courage."

Dunwoody had many firsts in her career, including the first woman to command a battalion in the 82nd Airborne Division (1992), Fort Bragg's first female general officer (2000), the first woman to command the Combined Arms Support Command (2004). and the first female soldier to achieve three-star rank since Lt. Gen. Claudia J. Kennedy, the former Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, who retired in 2000 (2005).

In November 2008, Army Gen. Dunwoody became the first woman in U.S. military history to achieve the rank of four-star General.  Her promotion ceremony was held at the Pentagon.

Army Gen. Dunwoody is retired and living in Florida with her husband, also retired military.

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