Colonel Heidi Brown

Col. Heidi V. Brown took command of the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade July 12 at Fort Bliss, becoming the first woman to take the reins of an ADA brigade. Brown was also the first woman from El Paso, Texas, to graduate from West Point and the first woman to command a Patriot air defense battalion. Col. Brown said she never set out to pioneer the way for women. In fact, she said she looks forward to the time when she can say that being a female combat-arms commander is no longer a novelty. "Someday, gender will be a non-issue in these positions," Brown's 21-year military career began with completion of the Air Defense Officer Basic Course and the HAWK Missile Course where she was the distinguished graduate. Col. Brown holds a bachelor's degree from the U.S. Military Academy, a master's degree in student personnel services from the University of South Carolina and a master's in strategic studies from the Army War College. Her military education includes Airborne School, Air Assault School, the Air Defense Artillery Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Combined Arms Services Staff School, the Army Command and General Staff College and the Armed Forces Staff College.

Colonel Marilyn Brooks

Col. Marilyn Brooks, 50, deputy commander for nursing at Womack Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg, recently received her Expert Field Medical Badge. The badge, which is called the EFMB, signifies that soldiers are highly skilled, highly knowledgeable and an expert in their field. For two grueling weeks, soldiers tested their skills and stamina in emergency medical treatment, CPR, land navigation and a 12-mile march. Soldiers must know how to do everything from administering first aid to fixing a jammed round in a rifle. To pass, their performance must be perfect. It is not uncommon for soldiers to try three or four times before they get the badge. Brooks got it on her first stab. Just 32 percent from her class of 190 graduated.


Col. Lorry Fenner was selected as the 2002-2003 Supreme Court fellow assigned to the Supreme Court. As the first military member to be accepted in the Supreme Court Fellows Program, Fenner said she was not sure the Air Force would allow her to accept the fellowship since it would take her away from her military duties. "I didn't have a lot of options, but I did know that if I was selected and it came down to the Supreme Court or the war on terrorism, I would go with the needs of the Air Force," she said. "If I did nothing else with this program but be a semifinalist, it would still be very cool." It turns out the Air Force key leadership supported Fenner's selection. The fellows program was created in 1973 by the late Chief Justice Warren Burger to provide promising individuals with a firsthand understanding of the judicial branch of the federal government. An 11-member Supreme Court Fellows commission appointed by the chief justice selects the fellows. Colonel Fenner's duties may include speechwriting and research for the chief justice, briefing visiting dignitaries, preparing analytical reports, and overseeing the Supreme Court Judicial Intern Program. Her year-long fellowship begins this month -September.


Command Sgt. Maj. Michele Jones was selected to become the ninth Command Sergeant Major of the Army Reserve. Jones is the first woman to be selected as the top noncommissioned officer in the Army Reserve, as well as the first woman to be chosen as the senior NCO in any of the Army's components.


Chief Master Sergeant Benton is the eighth Command Chief Master Sergeant for the Director, Air National Guard, National Guard Bureau, Washington, D.C. and the first woman. She is responsible for all affairs concerned with the enlisted personnel of the Air National Guard. The Chief was an active duty Air Force enlisted member for twelve years. She served as an Active Guard/Reserve member of the Kansas Air National Guard. She then served as the Air National Guard First Sergeant Functional Manager, USAF First Sergeant Academy, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama until her current assignment.


Lieutenant General Roger Schultz, director of the Army National Guard pins new stars on Brig. Gen. Julia Jeter Cleckley who became the first African-American woman to be promoted to flag officer in the Army National Guard on Sept. 3, 2002. Her accomplishments include being the first minority woman to become a branch chief at the National Guard Bureau; the first African American woman to be promoted to colonel in the Army National Guard Active Guard and Reserve program; and the first woman and minority member to serve on the Army Guard director's special staff as chief of Human Resources. She has also been a professor of military science at the Hampton University ROTC program in Virginia.

The first female ever and Hispanic Squadron Commander for the 433rd Aircraft Generation Squadron, Lackland AFB, is Major Wanda I. Echevarria. Major Echevarria commanded the Squadron and led them through the activation of more than 300 reservists during Operation Enduring Freedom. She was their commander from 1998-2002 and is now on duty at Texas Christian University, Det 845, Air Force ROTC, as the Commandant of Cadets.

Please note: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is displayed without profit or payment for those who have expressed an interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. Photos and images are from the National Archives, The Naval History Center, The U.S. Army, USMC, U.S. Navy, USAF, U.S. Coast Guard, the Defense Visual Information Center, The Army Nurse Corps, and the personal collections of this author. Nothing on this site is for sale nor is it a commercial venture of any kind - it is a one person page for, and about military women - by one retired military woman.

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Unless otherwise noted contents © 1996 to date by Captain Barbara A. Wilson, USAF (Ret)