CLASS OF 2020
Click on photo to view more information on each hall of fame inductee.
She attended the Rotary Wing Aviator Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama and became the Army National Guard's first female aviator.
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.
In February 2004 she assumed duties as The Adjutant General, Pennsylvania National Guard, a State cabinet-level position.
Headquartered at Fort Indiantown Gap, MG Wright is responsible for command, control, and supervision of all Air and Army National guard units allocated to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
She is also responsible for six (6) state-owned veterans' homes and programs for Pennsylvania's one million veterans.
The Honorable (MG) Jessica L. Wright
MG McWilliams was the first woman officer to have served in the following command and senior staff positions: Commander, 9th Personnel Services Company, Fort Lewis, WA; Commander, 42nd AG Battalion, Fort Dix, NJ; Commander, 3rd Personnel Group, Fort Hood, TX; DA Secretariat and later Director, Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate, Total Army Personnel Command, Alexandria, VA; and Director of Military Personnel Management, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, The Pentagon, Washington, DC.
All her military accomplishments were remarkable but perhaps most significant and everlasting will be the effort she put in to ensuring that the Women in Military Service for America Memorial would survive. She ensured that the service of military women would continue to be honored, that the public could be educated on that service, that new generations would be empowered to consider serving, and that military women who sacrificed so much in order to serve would be remembered.
MG Dee Ann McWilliams
She served 32 years in the US Army as a logistician culminating her career as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Headquarters Department of the Army.
As a woman Army officer from 1975 to 2006 she was on the leading edge of change as women were no longer separated in the Women's Army Corps and as the Army adjusted to becoming an All - Volunteer Force. She blazed many trails for others to follow where she became the first woman to hold innumerable jobs within the Ordnance career field.
In her final assignment, from 2004 to 2006, she served as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (G - 4), HQDA. MG Jeanette K. Edmunds retired in 2006 after 30 years of distinguished service.
MG Edmunds serves as the Chairwoman of the WIMSA Foundation and heads the Board’s Development Committee and has been a member of the AWF Board of Advisors for over 10 year.
MG Jan K. Edmunds
MG Wilmoth commanded units of various size and complexity, including serving as the first nurse and female commanding general of a medical brigade with responsibility for wartime readiness of all the U.S. Army Reserve medical assets in the Southeastern United States, including Puerto Rico.
In her final assignment, she was promoted to Major General and assigned to the Office of the Surgeon General, US Army. She was the first female and nurse to serve as Deputy Surgeon General for the Army Reserve.
In addition to her numerous military awards and decorations, Peggy holds the prestigious the Ellen Hardin Walworth Medal for Patriotism, awarded by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2017. Her military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Expert Field Medical Badge.
MG Wilmoth currently serves as the Executive Dean and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the University of North Carolina School of Nursing.
MG Peggy Wilmoth
In her long career of service, she fought for women’s equal rights and equal pay. She worked tirelessly to bring WAC women service members into full and equal ranks for the Armed Forces.
In 1957 Colonel Milligan – Rasmunson became the 5th Director of the Women’s Army Corp. During her 5 ½ years as Director she expanded women's opportunities into assignments reserved for men only starting in 1957 with the assignment of 12 enlisted women into the First Missile Master Unit at Fort Meade.
She was instrumental in getting women promoted above the grade of E-7 and into the ranks of E-8 and E-9.
She was the guiding force to opening up the college enlistment option to women under the self-enhancement programs and witness the first female enlisted person to attend college under this program.
COL Milligan – Rasmunson retired from active duty in 1962 and passed away in 2012 at 101.
COL Mary Louise Milligan-Rasmuson, USA (Retired)
COL Cummings was assigned to operational units from coordination exercises with other DOD units to events and exercises with FEMA. As the Reserve Forces Advisor to US Northern Command/North American Aerospace Defense, she concluded a 25-year army career as a member of the 2002 transition team to activate NORTHCOM as required.
Upon her retirement from active duty, Edna Cummings started a highly successful veteran, woman-owned business specializing in management and proposal services for federal and commercial clients.
Particularly noteworthy is the volunteer work Edna Cummings has accomplished to honor and recognize the 6888th Postal Directory Battalion, the first and only all-Black, all-female unit to deploy to the European Theater of Operations during World War II. Edna Cummings has been instrumental in obtaining long-overdue recognition of the 6888th Postal Directory Battalion. In addition to helping to raise funds for a monument in honor of the 6888th Postal Directory Battalion dedicated at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in November 2018, she coordinated with congressional staff to present the Army Meritorious Unit Commendation to surviving veterans of the unit in February 2019. Further, she served as a producer of the critically acclaimed documentary about the 6888th, entitled, "No Mail, Low Morale." Currently, she is the principal spokesperson in soliciting congressional support for the Six Triple Eight Congressional Gold Medal. Through her dedication, drive, and highly refined social media skills, Edna continues to champion actions, and increase awareness for the seven women veterans from the 6888th who are alive -- all in their nineties.
COL Edna W. Cummings's overall outstanding career performance and her championing of the 6888th Postal Directory Battalion demonstrate exemplary performance, both by example and by deeds.
For information on the Appalachian State Alumna and Military Trailblazer https://today.appstate.edu/2020/03/20/cummings
COL Edna W. Cummings
Her early education and training were designed to prepare for diverse positions in the army. After five years of active duty, COL Dixon was selected for her first command of the Pentagon Operations Company.
Showing exemplary performance in command and leadership positions at increasing levels of responsibility, COL Dixon's assignments reflected preparation for increasing responsibility as a policymaker, women's advocate and executive leadership and management.
She was selected and served with distinction as a senior military advisor and Congressional fellow on Capitol Hill. Among her numerous honors she received the Phillip Connelly Award for best large dining facility category and for best quality and nutritious food in 14 dining facilities.
Her final assignment in the army detailed her to the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2013 to lead a group of 8 army colonels and sergeants major in reducing a 600,000 disability claims backlog by 2015. Many of these claims involved a disproportionate number of female veterans.
In retirement, COL Dixon is a businesswoman who currently runs a short - term rental business. She is still involved in volunteer services and is actively involved in THE ROCKS, INC., a mentoring and professional development nonprofit organization for army officers.
COL Lillian Anita Dixon
Upon graduation from college, Dorene Hurt was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Transportation Corps, where she served as a platoon leader and assistant battalion executive officer. In 1981 she transferred to the medical service branch within the logistics specialty.
After having completed the Logistics Management Course and a brief assignment at Fort Carson, she was selected to attend the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) Advanced course, and the US Army Baylor Master's Degree program in healthcare administration.
Throughout her career, Dorene served in senior health care executive positions and contributed immeasurably to the quality of military health care. COL Hurt was a staunch supporter of women's rights to health care and served as an outspoken advocate ensuring that feminine products were available for women during deployment and field exercises.
Retiring in 2009, Dorene continues to serve. Most noteworthy is her volunteer work, where she serves at both the state and national level with THE ROCKS, INC., a military officer and cadet mentoring and professional development non-profit organization that exists to strengthen the military officer corps. There she uses her talent and time to mentor others in order for them to live up to the fullest potential.
COL Dorene Hurt
CW5 Monroe started as an ammunition specialist and served as a Drill Sergeant before becoming a Warrant Officer in 2003. Since then, she deployed six times, including three times to Iraq – and she went from overseeing $5 million worth of ammunition on her first deployment, to $2.7 billion on her last. She came to the Pentagon in 2015 and is on the front-line of our efforts to improve ammunition readiness.
She implemented an Amnesty program which enabled $265,000 worth of ammunition to be placed back into serviceable condition.
CW5 Monroe founded and organization with two other young ladies; Blazing Beauties. Its mission is to provide a safe, nurturing, and learning environment for young ladies ages 10-18 who are from all walks of life. Under our platform C.A.R.E (Community Service, Accountability, Resiliency and Education and Evolvement) we try to provide young girls the strength and courage to rise above daily adversity and strive to be better individuals and contributors to their communities and personal livelihood.
CW5 Cheryl Monroe
Entering the Army in 1984, Wendy Wayman has supported every military campaign since Desert Storm, to the present day.
She is a mentor to soldiers of all ranks, branches, and demographics. She developed a three year NSA intern program to provide a high level of specialization for mid-grade Signals Intelligence Warrants, which directly and significantly improved support to maneuver forces.
She identified a need to provide focused, operational support to conventional combat operations to remove high-value targets from the battlefield. This focused operational support resulted in the introduction of trained soldiers, specialized equipment, and concentrated tactics and techniques, mission, and equipment identified as SIGINT Terminal Guidance. As a result of her initiative, this focused system has been adopted as standard Army Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Doctrine.
CW5 Wendy Wayman is an exceptional example of a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a role model, and a soldier. She has proudly served her country while raising her children, now both soldiers themselves. She continues to serve proudly and has been a pioneer in her field.
CW5 Wendy Wayman
Born and raised in Berlin, Karla Frank began working for the U.S. government in 1971 as an interpreter in the "Allied Kommandatura," the governing body for the city of Berlin following Germany's defeat in World War II. She later served as a personnel clerk for the U.S. Army's Berlin Brigade, where she met and married an American Soldier.
In 1973, SGM Frank accompanied her then-husband to Fort Hood, Texas. She decided to join the Army shortly after that and enlisted as an administrative specialist in April 1974 and transitioned to the JAG Corps in 1980. SGM Frank then began a meteoric rise through the ranks. On 1 April 1989, a mere 15 years after joining the U.S. Army, she was the first woman to attain the highest enlisted rank of Sergeant Major in the history of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps—the oldest law firm in the United States founded in 1775.
SGM Frank loved mentoring Soldiers, and she flourished as their career steward. In addition to managing thousands of enlisted careers, she traveled widely to understand Soldiers' needs and appropriately balance them against the Army's needs.
She retired on 1 May 1994 after 20 years of service to the nation.
SGM Karla Frank
Frequently commended as an expert in personnel and career counseling, her unit and leadership retention programs were worthy of emulation and demonstrated outstanding supervisory and management with subordinates. She was an exceptional Soldier, role model, and frequently commended for her outstanding leadership, recruitment, and retention skills.
After her retirement in 2006, Elizabeth Helm-Frazier has continued her service to military women, veterans, and community activities. One of her many ongoing volunteer commitments is ensuring the legacy of the 6888th Postal Battalion, the first and only all-Black and all-female unit to deploy to the European Theater of Operations during World War II. Through her efforts, she helped raise funds to build a monument at Fort Leavenworth to recognize the 6888th’s exemplary service in WWII. Additionally, she served as a producer of the critically acclaimed documentary, “No Mail, Low Morale,” which tells the 6888th Postal Directory Battalion story.
Elizabeth Helm-Frazier is skilled at providing counseling and guidance to Army women and continues to be an advocate and role model for Army women.
MSG Elizabeth Anne Helm-Frazier
Since her earliest days as a young Private, she was continually cited as outstanding amongst her peers, whether as the distinguished honor graduate from all of her training courses or being the key driving force of the maintenance effort in all of the units to which she was assigned.
In an unprecedented move, FWPMO selected her to be the technical evaluator for three simultaneous Army fixed-wing maintenance contract source selection boards. Additionally, she served as the technical expert on multi-service source selection boards for the C-20, C-23, C-26 and C-12/UC-35 and the Dash 7 Airborne Reconnaissance Aircraft maintenance contracts; each valued at multi $100 million.
MSG Tanya Whitney
She is a true Army trailblazer and holds the distinctions of being the first WAC to later serve as an Army Chaplain and is the first woman chaplain in a Combat Arms Brigade (197th Infantry Brigade), the second woman chaplain to serve at the Office of the Chief of Chaplains and the first Woman Division Chaplain to deploy with the 1st Infantry Division to Bosnia and Germany.
For an article on Chaplain Weddle go to https://www.army.mil/article/233852/army_womens_foundation_2020_hall_of_fame_inducts_three_chaplains
Chaplain (COL) Donna Weddle
Karen earned a reputation throughout the Army Chaplain Corps for her creative approach to soldier ministry, which she continues to implement through the development of highly committed and integrated teams. Since the earliest days of her military career she has been a key part of innovative ministries that shaped Army chapel communities for future generations. At her first assignment with the 82d Airborne Division, she was a part of the All-American Service that later became Chapel Next. A team approach to faith-based community, Chapel Next quickly spread across the Army and sister services. During her second assignment, God gave Karen a vision for a coffeehouse ministry, which grew from a local initiative to help Soldiers and Airmen into a flourishing ministry template that installations across South Korea utilized to support military personnel and families. This ministry vision had an exponential impact, as both models of ministry were well in place when the U.S. was attacked on 9/11 and the Global War on Terror began. Easily deployable, these templates for faith-based community sustained the spirit of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Defense Department civilians through countless campaigns and operations.
Always seeking common ground and collaboration, Chaplain Meeker is known for connecting easily with people and caring for them in all seasons of life and service and in the midst of any experience. Bringing together Chaplain Endorsing Agents, civilian ministry partners, and religious leaders in the U.S. and abroad, Karen has advanced Defense Department policies to improve and widen the impact of religious support on the force. Wherever she has been, her performance has transcended the organization and has echoed throughout the Army.
A lifetime runner and unrepentant lover of puns, Karen’s greatest treasures are faith, freedom, family, and friends.
Chaplain Meeker is currently the Chief of Chaplain Recruiting in the Office of the Chief of Chaplains at the Pentagon, and is orders to become the Command Chaplain for 8th Army in the Republic of Korea. Her previous assignments include Senior Chaplain Clinician of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and Command Chaplain for Regional Health Command Europe; 1st Armored Division Chaplain, Fort Bliss, Texas; Chaplain for CENTCOM Forward Jordan; Executive Officer, Office of the Chief of Chaplains, Pentagon; Accessions Officer, Office of the Chief of Chaplains; Deputy Command Chaplain, Combined Joint Task Force 101, Afghanistan; Deputy Division Chaplain, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell; Deputy Chaplain U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Eustis; Group Chaplain, 43d Area Support Group, Fort Carson and Kuwait; Deputy Group Chaplain, 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), US Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg; Battalion Chaplain, 2-2 Aviation Battalion (Air Assault), 2d Infantry Division, Republic of Korea; and Battalion Chaplain, 307 Forward Support Battalion (Airborne), 82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Her military education includes an Army War College Fellowship at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC; Command General and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Chaplain Captain Career Course at Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Pathfinder School (the first female chaplain to graduate) and Officer Honor Graduate, Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia; Advanced Airborne School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (first female chaplain); Combat Medical Ministry Course at AMEDD, and the Chaplains Officer Basic Course at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.
Chaplain Meeker's awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit (One Oak Leaf Cluster), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (Three Oak Leaf Clusters), Joint Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (One Oak Leaf Cluster), Joint Service Achievement Medal (One Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Achievement Medal (Three Oak Leaf Clusters), Joint Unit Meritorious Award (One Oak Leaf Cluster), Afghan Campaign Medal, National Defense Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Korean Defense Service Medal, Army Reserves Overseas Ribbon, NATO Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Master Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder Badge, Korean and German Parachutist Badges, German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (Bronze), and Army Staff Badge.
Chaplain Meeker was selected as a 2020 Gomes Awardee which recognizes distinguished Harvard Divinity School alumni. She received the Distinguished Service Award from the Military Chaplains Association in 2004. Chaplain Meeker was recognized by Northwest High School as a Distinguished Graduate in 2002. She is a Noble Patron of Armor (Saint George) and the Chaplain Corps (Saint Martin of Tours).
Publications and Presentations:
“Staying the Course” a devotional booklet for combat veterans and their loved ones by Guideposts, November 2018
“War of Ideas, Battle for the Soul,” published in the Washington Times July 2016: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jul/6/islamic-terror-recruiting-comes-down-to-a-war-of-b/
Presented, “War of Ideas, Battle for the Soul,” at the Brookings Institute: https://www.brookings.edu/events/beyond-2016-security-challenges-and-opportunities-for-the-next-administration/
“Our Sacred Honor,” paper posted at: https://mca-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Mobile-Newsgram-May-11-2016.pdf. DC Panel discussed the issues in the paper: “Improving Civ-Mil Relations for a Stronger Military Chaplaincy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7ae6HObWiU
Presented in Washington, DC on Panel Discussion “Women in Combat,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-2y_AC7siw
“His Mysterious Ways,” Guideposts, December 1996
Youth Handbook, United Methodist Vacation Bible School materials, Cokesbury, 1995
For article on Chaplain Meeker go to https://www.army.mil/article/233852/army_womens_foundation_2020_hall_of_fame_inducts_three_chaplains
Chaplain (COL) Karen Meeker
Colonel. After 24 years of service, She retired from active duty in 2014.
For an article on Karen Diefendorf go to https://www.army.mil/article/233852/army_womens_foundation_2020_hall_of_fame_inducts_three_chaplains
Chaplain (LTC) Karen Diefendorf
SPECIAL RECOGNITION OF CHAMPION AWARDS
The museum is filled with artifacts and memorabilia used and worn by women during their time in the military. Some of the items in the display cases are hers.
She thinks women veterans deserve more recognition. It's why she opened the museum. Walking into the Women Veterans and Military Family Services building in Mount Pocono, you'll find walls and cases filled with military memorabilia -- almost all of it, worn, given or used by women veterans.
"There are so many women that served in the military and they are not getting credit for their service or being featured anywhere. I wanted to highlight women and just to draw public awareness and educate the public that we have a lot of women who served in every branch of the military," said Sgt. Major Claudette Williams (Ret.), Museum Director.
"This museum is really to highlight and show society that we have a lot of women, brave women who served our country," said Sgt. Major Williams. Walking around the museum, you'll see clothing and equipment that dates back decades.Most of the items were donated. The place made its debut last Saturday. Williams says a lot of people have been taking note of the logo. It's a boot with a high heel inside. "The reason for that is because it shows how a woman can transition from one stage, the combat boot to the heels and we do it back and forth," said Sgt. Major Williams. Right now, the museum is only open Wednesday through Sunday. It doesn't cost anything to come in and take a walk around, but donations are greatly appreciated because it's that money that will keep this place going.
SGM Claudette Williams
Last June, LinkedIn launched a partnership with the Department of Defense to provide LinkedIn Premium to military spouses during each permanent change of station (PCS) and once again upon conclusion of military service
Sarah Roberts is an example of how those who served in the military continue to make impact post military and why our female Veterans, despite still being underserved in many of the available benefits, have truly earned and deserve the full benefits and respect of a grateful nation.
Sarah Roberts, Army Veteran
Head of Veteran and Military Programs, LINKEDIN
During three combat tours, she earned the Bronze Star Medal and Air Force Commendation with Valor for combat actions in Iraq.
Though combat disabled and retired from military service, Pearsall has not let her disabilities hold her back, she continues to work worldwide as an independent photographer and is an author, educator, military consultant and founder of the Veterans Portrait Project.
She began the Veterans Portrait Project (VPP) as she recovered from combat injuries sustained in Iraq. Her military career was over, her body was broken and her spirit was crushed. She'd lost hope in her future, faith in herself and passion for life. While rehabilitating, she spent countless idle hours in VA waiting rooms surrounded by veterans from every generation and branch of service. They inspired her to pick up her camera again so that she could honor and thank them with the only gift she had worth giving, her photography.
Since taking her first portrait in late 2008, she has conducted more than 160 portrait engagements, traveled to 90 cities in 32 states and captured over 7,500+ veterans' portraits