WASHINGTON -- The first woman to serve as a four-star general in both the Army and the U.S. armed forces, Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody retired August 15 after 38 years in uniform.
"Ann is a leader who lived our Army values, who always led from the front, who dedicated herself to the profession of arms," said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, who hosted the retirement. "In my mind, Ann Dunwoody is the epitome of the Army professional."
Dunwoody joined the Army in 1974, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Women's Army Corps in 1975. Her first assignment was as supply platoon leader, 226th Maintenance Company (Forward, Direct Support), 100th Supply and Services Battalion (Direct Support), Fort Sill, Okla. Since then, she's served at every level of command.
"Her true legacy and reward will be the thousands of Soldiers and civilians whose lives she has touched through the span of her career," Odierno said during a ceremony at Summerall Field at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., near the Pentagon.
Most recently, Dunwoody served as commander of the Army Materiel Command, or AMC, one of the largest commands in the Army. The command employs more than 69,000 employees across all 50 states and 145 countries.
"It was Ann's most recent role, as commander of the AMC, in which she unified global logistics in a way [that has never] been done," Odierno said. "She capitalized AMC's fundamental logistics functions to maximize the efficiency and services they provided of supply, maintenance, contact support, research and development, base and installation support, and deployment and distribution. She connected AMC not only to the Army, but ensured the joint force was always ready and supplied as well."
Odierno assured Dunwoody that she has left a mark on the Army, and changed it for the better.
"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."
In 2008, Dunwoody was promoted to general. She was the first woman in the U.S. military to be promoted to that rank. Odierno said that while the promotion is significant for women, Dunwoody didn't get it because of her gender, but because of her performance.
"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," Odierno said. "You have set the shining example for all Soldiers, especially our young leaders."
An Army brat, Dunwoody said she moved all over the world with her father, who was also an Army officer and who retired as a brigadier general.
On the occasion of her retirement from the Army, she said, it's been easier for her to think about leaving than to talk about it.
"Thinking about it is fun, talking about it is very hard," she said. "And the reason it's so hard comes down to one word: Soldiers.
Referring to those Soldiers on the parade field from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), she spoke more broadly of all the Soldiers in the Army.
"These Soldiers represent the finest in our Army, the Army that I love so much," she said. "It's a profession and an institution that has been a part of me since the day I was born.
"From the very first day that I put my uniform on, right up until this morning, I know there is nothing I would have rather done with my life," she said. "Thank you for helping me make this journey possible."
Dunwoody's husband, retired Air Force Col. Craig Brotchie, along with many of her family and friends, some going back as far as the fourth grade, attended the retirement ceremony.
"I promise now that I'm retired, I have a lot more time to be a better sister, a better grandma, and a better friend," Dunwoody told them. "I can't wait."
The outgoing general also thanked her husband.
"I won't even try to put in words what our life together has meant," she said. "Thank you. I love you. And I know you, me and Barney (their dog), have plenty of more miles to go."
According to Odierno, a member of the Dunwoody family "has served in every great conflict since the Revolutionary War."
Her great-grandfather was a veteran of the Spanish-American war, and a Signal Corps officer. Dunwoody's own father, Brig. Gen. Harold Dunwoody, was a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Dunwoody thanked her father, who could not be in attendance, for the influence he had on her.
"My own personal hero is my dad, he is a proud World War II, Korea, Vietnam veteran," she said. "And he was a real Soldier's Soldier. And much of who I am is founded on what I learned from my dad, as a Soldier, as a patriot and as a father."
Also thanking her mother, Dunwoody said "I got my faith, energy, and my love of sports from my mom."
Dunwoody said during her military career, she's never worked for a female boss.
"I've always had male bosses who have coached me, mentored me, and influenced my career as a Soldier," Dunwoody said. "[They] gave me opportunities that I know if left to the bureaucracy would have never happened. [They are] leaders who opened the doors for me, leaders who looked beyond gender, leaders who could see something in folks that didn't look like they do. Without their help, I know I would not be standing here today."
When Dunwoody first became a Soldier, women served in the Women's Army Corps and "it was not equal," she said. But much has changed since then.
"Over the last 38 years I have had the opportunity to witness women Soldiers jump out of airplanes, hike 10 miles, lead men and women, even under the toughest circumstances," she said. "And over the last 11 years I've had the honor to serve with many of the 250,000 women who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan on battlefields where there are no clear lines, battlefields where every man and woman had to be a rifleman first. And today, women are in combat, that is just a reality. Thousands of women have been decorated for valor and 146 have given their lives. Today, what was once a band of brothers has truly become a band of brothers and sisters."
Dunwoody and her husband will retire to Florida.