Women's History Month - El Paso woman retires from Army after historic career
Maj. Gen. Heidi V. Brown, most recently U.S. Strategic Command’s director of global operations, receives her personal colors during her retirement ceremony on Friday at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. (Photo: Courtesy photo – U.S. Strategic Command by Steve Cunningham)
El Pasoan and Army Maj. Gen. Heidi V. Brown, the first woman to lead and command a brigade during war, is retiring from the Army after 35 years, officials at her most recent assignment at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska announced Tuesday.
Brown, an Austin High School graduate, had most recently served as the director of global operations for U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt.
A retirement ceremony was held for her at Offutt on Friday and her official retirement date from the Army is April 1.
She was the first female combatant command operations officer and first U.S. Army soldier to serve in the position for Strategic Command.
It was one of many ground-breaking moments for Brown during her illustrious three-decade-plus career.
During the Iraq war, she became the first woman to command and lead a brigade in combat and was later the first female general in the Air Defense Artillery Branch of the Army.
Brown did multiple tours at Fort Bliss including being deputy commander for the post.
“You do leave a legacy, Heidi – as a supervisor, a combat arms officer, a strategic thinker – and I am here, as your commanding officer, to congratulate you on a career well-served,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of Strategic Command.
Hyten presented Brown with the Distinguished Service Medal for her time with the command and the Air Force Aerial Achievement Medal.
Brown said in a prepared statement that she initially planned to leave the Army after she completed her initial service commitment but “fell in love with being a soldier.”
“I have really been blessed my entire career,” she said.
Brown could not be reached by the El Paso Times for comment.
Brown’s statement acknowledged the many leaders and mentors, particularly retired Lt. Gen. Robert P. Lennox, who supported her and placed her in key command and staff positions based on her performance and potential.
“You always believed in me and provided me with opportunities not because I was a female soldier but because I was a soldier,” Brown said.
Lennox, who has been Brown’s longtime mentor and friend, said she had a “marvelous career of firsts built by Heidi’s courage to take on the toughest jobs.”
“Her determination to succeed and her selflessness to serve paved the way for a generation of leadership in the Air Defense Artillery Branch and the Army,” Lennox said.
Brown received letters of appreciation during her retirement ceremony from former President Barack Obama, from Hyten and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts.
David Burge may be reached at 546-6126; email@example.com; @dburge1962 on Twitter.
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