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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Holy Massive Guns, General Dunwoody

"There is no one more surprised than I — except, of course, my husband. You know what they say, 'Behind every successful woman there is an astonished man.'"

General Ann E. Dunwoody


With these modest words, the US Army got its first full, or "four-star", general.

General Dunwoody's meteoric rise in the nation's oldest armed force didn't seem inevitable when she first joined in 1975. She wasn't a graduate of West Point, nor of course being a woman, did she have a formal combat role -- traditionally the path to the rank of general.

But this skillful woman had a military past: her father was a brigadier-general, Harold H. Dunwoody. Her father's family had been in their country's service since the 1860s, and a member of her overall family, since the 1700s.

She had spent most of her youth outside of the United States as a military brat, in Germany and later Belgium, even graduating from SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) American High School in 1969.

All her siblings were likewise in the military. Her sister Susan, in fact, was only the third woman to become an Army helicopter pilot. Her niece, Jennifer, is a fighter pilot and the veteran of several missions over of Afghanistan. Amusingly, given the normal roles of the genders, her brother Buck (a graduate of West Point) left the Army as a first-lieutenant.

It was in the first Gulf War where the master parachutist came into her own. She was a battalion commander, handling logistics for the 82nd Airborne Division in Saudi Arabia.

Given her rather haggard appearance at the promotion ceremony, since she is only 55 years-old, I wondered what the young Ann Dunwoody had looked like. I went to the official Army Flickr page and to my astonishment, this ripped babe stared back, a full 17 years after the photo was taken.

Good God...



...Madonna would kill to have those guns, instead of the disgusting, zero-fat, muscle pads she calls arms. Ick.



Her female colleague is leaning into then Colonel Dunwoody, who looks somewhat masculine (understandable given her career and circumstances. The last thing you want to be, is a pert miss like Private Benjamin). Dunwoody had first impressed in her testosterone world because she was a fierce athlete, having competed in gymnastics in high school, and even today she jogs, and plays tennis with ardour.

But I regret to inform the misses O'Donnell and DeGeneres that this accomplished woman is happily married to retired Colonel Craig Brotchie, USAF.

Here they are in Ft. Bend, Oregon, in the 1990s. She looks unrecognisable!



You know, 2008 was a disappointing year for women in power. Not only could we have had either a first female US President, but later potentially the first US Vice-President. Israel could've had its second female Prime Minister too.

None of them panned out.

Moreover, the nation seemed to accept the most egregious sexism I have ever seen, directed to both of these American politicians. The pity is that it was done by people who allegedly champion women by virtue of their more liberal politics.

So this promotion startled me, and actually made me quite happy.

Like General Dunwoody, I too come from a military family (medical military, thus they too are non-combatants). It was always my dream to go to either Sandhurst or West Point, which entrance to Oxford put a stop to. I could've gone on to Sandhurst after graduation, like my own father did, but I didn't. Life took me to other climes, and other circumstances.

But Ann E. Dunwoody was not to be denied. Despite being surrounded by men who allegedly are more narrow-minded than creatures called Chris Matthews, they saw her potential and rewarded it at every turn.

Women like General Dunwoody don't come often. As she takes up her Materiel Command this month, she can be truly proud of what she has accomplished. But her story has a moral embedded with the honours.

“You can live a humdrum, everyday life or live it for all it’s worth,” General Edmunds said. “She lives it to the fullest.”

So ladies, there you have it.

Live life to the fullest, because not only is that your own doing, but no one can take that away from you.

P.S.: The military is without a doubt, the fairest of all professions. It is socially egalitarian, and has a democratic ethos -- one which protects the man or woman to the right or left of you. There is no need for affirmative action programmes there. If you're good, you're good, and you'll go far. It is a severely maligned profession, by those who only boil it down to the evils of bloodshed.

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7 Comments:

  • The military is without a doubt, the fairest of all professions.

    ?!?

    I'm not allowed to serve in the military.

    By Blogger Zachary Paul Sire, at Sun Nov 16, 04:00:00 pm GMT-5  

  • And I'm not allowed to serve in actual combat.

    That's not the point, Zach, though I am sensitive to your position.

    My point is that once you're there, a person's COMPETENCE and zeal is what determines their advance, not whether or not they want to blow their officers or their skin colour.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Nov 16, 04:03:00 pm GMT-5  

  • "Live life to the fullest."

    That's a bit too easy. You write it as if it's clear what that means. I don't think that's true, as your own change of course in life illustrates.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 16, 04:31:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Anonymous, I don't get your point. Are you saying that because I didn't get to go to Sandhurst, I didn't life to the fullest?

    That's nonsense.

    I have lived my life as fully as I have wanted to.

    If I haven't gone hang-gliding, went up the Matterhorn, or written the great American novel, it's because I haven't had a notion to.

    It seems to me that Ann Dunwoody lived her life as best as she could. That's living life to the fullest.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Nov 16, 05:08:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Just to be clear, I'm not trying to be nitpicky. I am excited, however, that I've finally been able to critize you... You're human! Anyway, you write:

    It seems to me that Ann Dunwoody lived her life as best as she could. That's living life to the fullest.

    I think that's already a good clarification. What you seem to be saying is that living life to the fullest is living it to the greatest development of one's talents. I would sympathize with that. It seems to me this is what Aristotle had in mind with his conception of human flourishing as activity in accordance with excellence.

    Nevertheless, that seems different than what you write in the sentences immediately preceding:

    If I haven't gone hang-gliding, went up the Matterhorn, or written the great American novel, it's because I haven't had a notion to.

    Here you seem to imply that living life to the fullest implies doing things that you want to do, or things that occur to you (which by themselves are also two different things, I think). That is a much more liberal notion of a fully or well-lived life than the Aristotelian conception.

    And yes, I'm pedantic and have no life... :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 16, 06:35:00 pm GMT-5  

  • her brother Buck (a graduate of West Point) left the Army as a first-lieutenant.

    there has to be something more there.

    Officers normally get promoted to Captain around 4 years and the normal committment from USMA is 5 years.

    By Blogger The Drill SGT, at Sun Nov 16, 10:16:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Well? No reply? My point was serious.

    Also, any thoughts on Frum's latest attack on Palin?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Nov 18, 06:31:00 am GMT-5  

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