Call it breaking the brass ceiling. Ann E. Dunwoody, after 33 years in the Army, ascended Friday to a peak never before reached by a woman in the U.S. military: four-star general. At an emotional promotion ceremony, Dunwoody looked back on her years in uniform and said it was a credit to the Army — and a great surprise to her — that she would make history in a male-dominated military.
“Thirty-three years after I took the oath as a second lieutenant, I have to tell you this is not exactly how I envisioned my life unfolding,” she told a standing-room-only auditorium crowd. “Even as a young kid, all I ever wanted to do was teach physical education and raise a family.
“It was clear to me that my Army experience was just going to be a two-year detour en route to my fitness profession,” she added. “So when asked, `Ann, did you ever think you were going to be a general officer, to say nothing about a four-star?’ I say, `Not in my wildest dreams.’
“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.’ ”
Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody listens to a question during a news conference following her promotion ceremony to a four-star General, Friday, Nov. 14, 2008, at the Pentagon.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
In an Associated Press interview after the ceremony, Gen. George Casey, the Army’s chief of staff, said that if there is one thing that distinguishes Dunwoody it is her lifetime commitment to excelling in uniform.