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.
...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.