Top Female Army Generals of All Time

In today’s post, I will share the top female Army Generals of all time.

Originally, I wanted to write this article about the first female United States Army General. However, after doing my research, I discovered there are numerous success stories worth sharing.

Women have come a long way in the Army. For many years, there weren’t women officers in the Army. That didn’t happen until after WW2. Now, women can serve as Infantry Officers. Who knows what the future will hold? Maybe we’ll have a female Chief of Staff or Joint Chiefs of Staff in the future.

Top Female Army Generals of All Time

The First Female Army Officer

The year was 1947. The President of the United States was Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower was General of the Army. It was the year of the first female Army officer. Her name was Florence Blanchfield. General Eisenhower appointed her as Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army making her the first woman to hold a permanent Army officer rank.

Florence Blanchfield was an excellent choice to be the seventh superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps. The “Little Colonel,” so called because she was only 5′ 1″ tall, was thoroughly conversant with the workings of the superintendent’s office and familiar with all the key people in the Surgeon General’s Office. Her assistants confided that Blanchfield could “keep her mind on eight things at once,. . . she has the memory of a super Quiz Kid for facts and figures.” ~ Army Nurse Corps Association

The First Female Army General(s)

It would be a long time before a female would attain a rank of General in the Army. When it finally happened, it was not one, but two women who were promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. On June 11th, 1970 these two women had the STAR pinned on their shoulders, something many people never expected. General Westmoreland promoted Brigadier Generals Anna Hayes and Elizabeth Hoisington.

Both women had entered military service during World War II in 1942 and served with distinction throughout their military careers. At the time of their promotions Col. Hays was chief of the Army Nurse Corps and Col. Hoisington director of the Women’s Army Corps. The parallels of their careers continued one year after their promotions, when both women generals retired in August 1971. ~Genealogy Bank

History had been made! In the paragraphs below, I will highlight several female Army Generals and give you a slight biography of each starting with the first two.

Brigadier General Anna Mae Hays

Anna was born in 1920. She gained a diploma in nursing and joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1942. Anna was stationed in India during World War II and she also served in Korea. Anna then was in an academic position at Walter Reed Hospital.

In 1967, she became the Chief of the Army Nurse Corps, and she traveled to Vietnam several times. Promoted to Brigadier General in 1970, Anna retired in 1971. Her highest award was the Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster.

Brigadier General Elizabeth Hoisington

Elizabeth was born in 1918 and she passed away in 2007. In 1942, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She was commissioned in 1943.

Elizabeth served in France during World War II. She served during Korea and spent time working in the Pentagon. In 1965, Elizabeth was appointed Director of the Women’s Army Corps and visited Vietnam several times.

Elizabeth also retired in 1971 after being promoted to Brigadier General in 1970. Her highest awards were:

  • The Army Distinguished Service Medal
  • Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf cluster

Top Female Army Generals

Brigadier General Hazel Johnson Brown

Hazel was born in 1927 and passed away in 2011. She served as an Army nurse from 1955 to 1983. We recognize Hazel on two accomplishments.

  1. In 1979, she was the first black woman promoted to Brigadier General.
  2. Also in 1979, Hazel became the first black Chief of the United States Army Nurse Corps.

Awards Hazel attained consisted of the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Cluster.

Brigadier General Dr. Rhonda Cornum

This is an amazing woman! Born in 1954, Dr. Cornum studied biochemistry and wanted to become a flight surgeon.

During the Persian Gulf, she was on board a Blackhawk Helicopter and they were shot down. Dr. Cornum was captured and had to endure torture and abuse. Brigadier General Cornum retired from the Army in 2012. She wrote and published the book: She Went to War: the Rhonda Cornum Story.

Dr. Cornum’s awards consist of the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Distinguished Flying Cross to name a few.

Brigadier General Colleen McGuire

Serving in the U.S. Army from 1979 – 2011, Colleen was the first female to hold the title of Provost Marshal. She was the Commanding General of the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command.

Brigadier General Coral Pietsch

Now a Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, Coral served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve from 1974 – 2007. She retired as a Brigadier General. While in the Army Reserve, she deployed to Iraq during the Iraq War.

Major General Jessica Wright

She was the first female aviation brigade commander and also the first National Guard female aviator. Major General Wright was the adjutant general of Pennsylvania and commander of the Pennsylvania National Guard. I don’t have much more info on this remarkable woman, but she can smile bright for her accomplishments.

General Wright was commissioned through the Women’s Army Corps Orientation, Officer Candidate School at Fort McClellan, Alabama in 1975. Prior to her commissioning, General Wright enlisted into the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1975. She attended the Rotary Wing Aviator Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama and became the Army National Guard’s first female aviator. General Wright was assigned as an Assistant Professor of Military Science at Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia for three years ending in 1989. General Wright became the first female maneuver brigade commander in the United States Army as she took command of the 28h Combat Aviation Brigade, 28th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Pennsylvania Army National Guard. In October 2000, General Wright was assigned as the Deputy Adjutant General – Army, Pennsylvania National Guard and served in this capacity until being sworn in as Pennsylvania’s first female Adjutant General in 2004. ~ National Guard Bureau

Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy

Born in Germany in 1947, Lieutenant General Kennedy rose through Army ranks in Intelligence. She did two tours in Germany and one tour in South Korea. Claudia retired from the Army in 2000 with 31-years of service. Her awards include Legion of Merit with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.

Lieutenant General Susan Lawrence

Now retired, Susan was the first female to hold the Chief Information Officer designation. She joined the Women’s Army Corps in 1972 and was commissioned in 1979.

Lieutenant General Patricia Horoho

In 2011, Lieutenant General Horoho became both the first female and the first nurse to become the Surgeon General of the Army. In 2008, Patricia assumed command of the Army Nurse Corps.

General Ann Dunwoody

General Dunwoody carries the distinction of being the first female to reach 4 stars. Born in 1953, Ann served in the Army from 1975 – 2012. She was nominated as Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command. She served in the Persian Gulf War and has numerous awards that include:

  • Army Distinguished Service Medal with one bronze oak leaf cluster
  • Defense Superior Service Medal
  • Legion of Merit with two bronze oak leaf clusters
  • and many more.

She became the first female battalion commander for the 82nd Airborne Division in 1992 and the first female general at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2000—a position she ascended to from her first assignment there, as division property-book officer. For her service she was decorated a number of times, receiving the Distinguished Service Medal and the Defense Superior Service Medal, among other awards. ~ Britannica

Top Female Army Generals of All Time

The above women are now retired.

Active Duty Female Generals

The following females are still on active duty in the United States Army:

  • Lieutenant General Gwen Bingham: First female to serve as Quartermaster General.
  • Major General Marcia Anderson: First African American Female Reserve officer to obtain this rank.
  • Brigadier General Margaret Burcham: First female promoted to General officer in the Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Major General Laura Richardson: The first female to become a deputy commanding general of a maneuver division.
  • Lieutenant General Flora Darpino: She is the first female Judge Advocate General of the Army.
  • Lieutenant General Nadja West: She graduated from the United States Military Academy and holds the highest rank of any woman who has done so.
  • Brigadier General Diana Holland: Her distinction is being the first female Commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, these are the top female Army Generals in the U.S. Army. Women have continued to serve our nation with honor and pride. More importantly, women continue to climb the ranks and hold important leadership positions.

I believe all Army women owe that to the first two female Army Generals because they pushed for more women to be promoted. I want to thank all females who serve. You have helped grow our force into a solid, fearless structure.

Please leave your questions and comments below. Thank you.

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chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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