National Women’s History Month: Five military women broke through glass ceilings within DLA Aviation

By Leon Moore DLA Aviation Public Affairs

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Since the Revolutionary War, when a woman, only known as “Agent 355,” served in George Washington’s spy ring, women have served in vital roles in the U.S. military: nurses, doctors, lawyers, fighter pilots, soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen.

There have also been groundbreakers. Cathay Williams was the first and only documented African-American woman to enlist in the Army as a Buffalo Solider in 1866. In 1976, the first women were admitted into four service academies. Army General Ann Dunwoody became the first woman to achieve the four-star officer rank in 2008. Six years later, Michelle Howard became the Navy’s first female four-star admiral. A year after that, the first females graduated from Army Ranger School. This list could go on and on.

Air Force Col. Madeline López was one such groundbreaker. In 2007, she became the first commander of Defense Logistics Agency Warner Robins, at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. Before that, she served as the director of the C-17 Aircraft/System Support Management Office at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center.

DLA Warner Robins, a detachment of Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, evolved out of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission's decision on supply and storage aimed at reshaping the Department of Defense infrastructure through consolidation, realignment and restructuring to optimize military readiness. Under the BRAC mandate, all supply, storage and distribution functions being done at service-run maintenance depots, industrial sites and shipyards were transferred to DLA. DLA Warner Robins was the first site to transition to DLA under the BRAC 2005 supply and storage decisions.

In 2010, Air Force Col. Tammy Farrow became the second commander, and second woman, to lead the DLA team at Warner Robins.

In 2008, then Navy Capt. Michelle Skubic served as the director of Supplier Operations for DSCR, ensuring aviation parts were available to warfighters when needed.  After being promoted to admiral, she became the commander of DLA Land and Maritime. She is currently the commander, Naval Supply Systems Command and 48th chief of supply corps July 13, 2018.

Glass ceilings continued to be shattered within DLA Aviation seven years later when Air Force Brig. Gen. Linda Hurry took command of Defense Supply Center Richmond and DLA Aviation in June 2017. In doing so, she became the first woman to hold the position.

Hurry said that while it was a tremendous honor being selected as the first female commander at DLA Aviation, she’s tried not to focus on that fact. She said her background in the Air Force and joint logistics community provided a great foundation for success in this position.

She also said she has never felt like she’s had to work harder than any of her male counterparts and never tried to prove women are equal or better than the men. She just focuses on doing her job leading the DLA Aviation team and accomplishing the mission together. 

“Everyone should just do their job to the best of their abilities and let their performance and actions speak for themselves.  People will respect you for that…remember, respect is something you earn as an individual, it really isn’t gender, rank or position dependent,” she said.

A year after moving into her role as the DSCR and DLA Aviation commander, Hurry played a significant role in shattering another glass ceiling, handpicking a then Navy Lt. Cmdr. Monica Frey to lead DLA Aviation Jacksonville, Florida, the first woman to sit in that seat. She was promoted to the rank of commander shortly afterwards.

“I can assure you I selected Monica because of her own merits and capabilities as a leader. It had nothing to do with the fact that she is a female,” she said. “If you work with her for five minutes, you’ll immediately know she is an absolutely incredible officer and leader and is doing AWESOME in Jax!”

“I do know having women selected as commanders within DLA Aviation and other key billets throughout the Department of Defense are important milestones and I know it does inspire and give hope to others,” Hurry said.