Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody has been nominated for promotion to four-star general. If she is confirmed, Dunwoody will be the first female four-star. (Army via AP)
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ENGLEWOOD, Fla. — There is a spring in the step and a twinkle in the eye of 89-year-old, retired one-star Gen. Harold H. Dunwoody, and with good reason.
Dunwoody's daughter, Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, 55, has just been tapped by President Bush to take over a new Army command as the first female four-star general in the history of the armed services.
"I have followed her career for 33 years," said Dunwoody, an Englewood resident for the last quarter-century. "Every assignment she has ever had, she's done in an outstanding manner. So it really doesn't surprise me she was the first woman selected for four stars."
After her Senate confirmation hearing, Ann Dunwoody will assume the Materiel Command of the Army, responsible for supplying soldiers with military hardware, repairing armored vehicles and sustaining combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"They have facilities worldwide she'll have to visit," her father said. His daughter will not publicly comment on her promotion until the Senate officially endorses her, an event expected before the end of this year.
One look at the Dunwoody family tree instantly underscores the inevitability of this historic achievement. This military clan has served the nation in virtually every major conflict since the 1700s, including the Revolutionary War, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Harold Dunwoody hails from Randolph, N.Y., about an hour south of Buffalo. He retired in 1973, a highly decorated veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
"I was badly wounded in 1944, getting blown out of a tank in Alsace-Lorraine on the Siegfried Line," he said, referring to the daunting German defense system that stretched almost 400 miles along the western border of the German empire, from the Netherlands all the way down to Switzerland. The line was fraught with more than 18,000 bunkers, tunnels and tank traps to deter invading Allied forces.
Later, as a battalion commander in the Korean conflict, he earned the Distinguished Service Cross for bravely and successfully holding off a hostile Chinese force which had completely surrounded his troops for two days.
Dunwoody insisted he did not encourage his daughter to embrace a military career.
"She did it all on her own," he said. "I think being part of a military family inspired her to join the club."
Her older brother, Harold H. Dunwoody, Jr. or "Buck," as the family calls him was himself a 1970 West Point graduate, achieving the rank of first lieutenant. He remembered his sister as "very focused" at achieving goals she set for herself.
"When she sets out on something, there's no stopping her," he laughed. "Just get out of the way or give it to her."
Ann was not the first woman from the family to join the armed services. Her older sister, Susan Schoeck, became the third woman in the Army to become a helicopter pilot and her niece, Jennifer Schoeck, continues the tradition as an Air Force fighter pilot.
Dunwoody Sr.'s only regret was that his late wife, Elizabeth, won't be there to see her daughter make history. Elizabeth, 81, died in 2006 of a massive stroke.
"My wife of 62 years was a major influence on Ann, in her morality and her honesty," Dunwoody said. "She was a wonderful woman, as anybody that ever knew her could tell you."
Dunwoody was proud to see his daughter burst through "the brass ceiling," as service personnel refer to it.
"I think this will make way for more women to do the same," he said.