Class of 2023
Click on photo to view more information on each hall of fame inductee.
An International / National Security Law specialist, COL(R) Johnson served in a variety of Judge Advocate positions commiserate with her rank in both CONUS and OCONUS, including five joint or combined tours. Throughout her career, she deployed in support of a range of missions, to include: humanitarian assistance in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; peacekeeping in Bosnia-Herzegovina; and combat support in Iraq. From 2000-2002, she served as the Chair of the International/Operational Law Department, The Judge Advocate Generals’ School, making her the first African American female to Chair an Academic Department. In her last operational assignment, she served as the senior lawyer to the 4-star command in Korea, responsible for the provision of legal services to United Nations Command/Combined Field Command/U.S. Forces Korea/Eight U.S. Army. Her terminal assignment in uniform was as the Senior Military Assistant to the Dept. of Defense General Counsel.
Immediately after retirement, COL(R) Johnson served as the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Since 2017, she’s been a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, teaching in the areas of constitutional law and governance, and national security law.
COL(R) Johnson’s professional affiliations include: the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security, Committee member; Leadership Council on Women in National Security, Leadership Council; the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, Circle of 500 Advisory Board; National Bar Association, Life Member; The ROCKS, Incorporated, Life Member; and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Life Member.
In addition to her military awards and decorations, COL(R) Johnson’s civilian awards include being a 1995 joint recipient of the American Bar Association’s Hodson Award for Outstanding Public Service. When the ABA presented the award to the International and Operational Law Division, Office of The Judge Advocate General, it was the first time a Department of Defense legal office had won the prestigious award. COL(R) Johnson was also a 2002 Inductee into the National Bar Association’s Military Law Section Hall of Fame, and was selected as the 2005 American Bar Association’s Outstanding Military Service Career Judge Advocate. In 2019, the U.S. Army Judge Advocate Generals’ Corps memorialized her career as part of its Oral History Program.
COL(R) Johnson is married to Lieutenant Colonel (R) Alvin K. Phillips.
The Honorable M. Tia Johnson
COL, USA, Retired
Directly commissioned into the Army JAG Corps in January, 1987, she served in a variety of developmental assignments both in Germany and the Washington, DC area, including litigating in both military criminal courts and Federal civil courts. Upon completing her L.L.M, Darpino was sent to be the Chief, Administrative Law, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Following a tour at the Office of The Judge Advocate General (OTJAG) in the Washington, D.C. area as the Assistant Executive Officer and Chief, Judge Advocate Recruiting Office, she served as the Staff Judge Advocate, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Hood, Texas, deploying with her unit to Kuwait and Iraq in 2003. Subsequently, she served as the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, III Corps at Fort Hood, Chief, Criminal Law Division, OTJAG, and Staff Judge Advocate, V Corps, in Heidelberg, Germany. Darpino then deployed to Iraq to serve as the Staff Judge Advocate, United States Forces – Iraq, in Baghdad, Iraq, where she was the senior military attorney in the country working with both the military and State Department.
Darpino graduated from Gettysburg College (B.A. with Honors, 1983) and Rutgers University (J.D. 1986). She has an L.L.M. in Military Law from The Judge Advocate General’s School, U.S. Army, and served as an Army War College Fellow at the Department of Justice. She is a member of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bars. Her military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Meritorious Service Medal. She is a graduate of Air Assault School.
LTG Flora D. Darpino
and IT functions during military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Campbell University in North Carolina, a Master’s degree in information systems management from the University of Georgia and honorary doctorates in science from Dakota State University and humane letters from Campbell University.
LTG Susan S. Lawrence
Becky has over 15 years of executive‐level leadership experience, developing and training high-performing, complex and diverse teams capable of strategic planning and execution. She has a proven record of leading change, building successful teams in demanding environments (Afghanistan and Iraq, Germany, South America), and creating innovative solutions, systems and programs to complex problems. She is an experienced leader and logistician, a highly effective communicator, and a strategic planner with exceptional organizational skills.
Becky is a 1981 graduate of the United States Military Academy and achieved an historic milestone as the first female graduate of West Point to be promoted to General Officer. She was the senior Commanding General for logistics in Iraq, and was the first female in U.S. history to command in combat at the strategic level. In this capacity she was responsible for leading over 200 multi‐disciplined units (20,000 military and 5,000 civilians) located across 55 different bases, providing supply, maintenance, transportation and distribution support to over 250,000 personnel serving in Iraq.
During active service, she served in Europe as the Deputy Commanding General (Chief Operating Officer) for the 21st Theater Support Command and has experience leading a multi-national team in wholesale level logistics operations. Prior to Europe, she served as the Chief Advisor to the Combatant Commander (Four Star General) for Southern Command, whose responsibility encompassed military training and operations for South America. She was also responsible for coordinating directly with high‐level organizations such as Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of State, U.S. Congress, U.S. Ambassadors and equivalent foreign military and civilian organizations.
Becky earned a B.S. in Engineering from West Point, an M.S. in National Resource Strategy (Advanced Manufacturing) from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University, an M.S. in Advanced Military Studies (Visionary Leadership) from the Army Command and General Staff College, and an Honorary PhD degree, Doctor of Military Science, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA. In 2011, her STEADFAST leadership model was developed into a Harvard Business School Case Study, currently being used in leadership courses across a wide range of top universities.
She is a primary faculty member and keynote speaker with Thayer Leadership at West Point, a premier executive leader development institute. She serves on the Board of Directors for Sturm, Ruger and Co. She is an advocate for healthcare for Veterans through a variety of organizations, with her primary focus on wholefood nutrition as a consultant for Standard Process, Inc, a Wisconsin based company providing whole food supplements since 1929.
Becky is a recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Graduates from the West Point Association of Graduates, a recipient of the 2021 National Women’s Hall of Fame, and a recipient of the 2007 National Women’s History Project award for “Generations of Women Moving History Forward.” From 2009 to 2010, Becky was selected to serve as a Commissioner for the Presidential Commission on Military Leadership Diversity. In 2011, Becky was an honored recipient of the historic Thayer Hotel room dedication for Distinguished Graduates.
BG Rebecca "Becky" Halstead
Born and educated in South Carolina, she was raised by her grandmother, the Rev. Vashti O. Jefferies after being orphaned at age 10 along with her brother Joe. At age 13, deciding to follow in the footsteps of her aunt, Col (R ) Vashti V. Jefferies, BG (R) Richardson wrote in her 8th grade memoir diary that she aspired to become an Army officer. 8 years later, she made that dream a reality. BG (R) Richardson received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics from Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C., in May 1973 and upon graduation from college, received a direct commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve. In August 1973, BG (R) Richardson entered active duty as a member of the Women's Army Corps. She consistently advanced to positions of greater responsibility while continually furthering her education. She earned a Master of Arts degree from Pepperdine University in Human Resources Management and attended the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, PA.
Her assignments took her all around the globe including assignments in Korea and Germany. She had an assignment as an Assistant Professor of Military Science at Virginia State University in Petersburg, VA and considers that assignment one of her most rewarding assignments in her 31 year career. She commanded at all levels from company to brigade and served as the deputy commanding general at the U.S. Army Signal School, the Army and Air Force Exchange and NETCOM.
BG (R) Richardson is one of a few African American women to have earned the rank of Brigadier General on active duty in the United States Army and was the senior African American woman in the active Army at her retirement. She was honored as NAACP Augusta (GA) Branch Woman of the Year 2000. Also, she was selected to be included in the BellSouth 2001 South Carolina African American History Calendar. (She is now fondly referred to by some of her friends as “Ms. November.”) In 2001 she was recognized as one of the outstanding graduates of historically black colleges and universities at the 26th National Conference on Blacks in Higher Education in Washington, DC and was inducted into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame at Columbia, SC. BG (R) Richardson was twice honored as a Texas Trailblazer while serving at AAFES and was recognized by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities for outstanding service to the nation’s military profession in 2003. She is a 2004 and 2005 Livingstone College NAC Outstanding Alumnus and received the Livingstone College Presidential Meritorious Service Award in May 2004.
BG (R) Richardson is a 2005 recipient of the Doctor of Laws Degree (Honoris Causa) from Livingstone College and the Parren J. Mitchell Foundation 2005 Awardee for Excellence. In October 2005, BG (R) Richardson was recognized as the National Women of Color in Technology’s Distinguished Achiever in Leadership. BG (R) Richardson received the ROCK of the Year award from the National Board of Directors of the ROCKS, a non-profit organization focused on mentorship, scholarship and education for current and retired Army officers, warrant officers, and SROTC/JROTC students. South Carolina once again honored her in March 2012 as a Woman in Philanthropy and Leadership Inspiring Woman. In 2017, BG ( R ) Richardson was honored for military leadership by the Charlotte Hornets. BG (R ) Richardson has served on several national boards including Council for a Strong America, the Military Officers’ Association of America, and The National Board of the ROCKS and advises the Marlboro School Community Center Board of Directors in her hometown, Bennettsville, S.C.. She is also one of the 15 Founders of the Annual Stars and Stripes Dinner as part of the Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference.
BG (R) Richardson has been the first African American (AA) woman in many of her positions throughout her career. Among them are: 1st AA woman to be branched in the Combat Arms—Air Defense Artillery; 1st woman to serve as Primary Staff Officer in the 3/6 Air Defense Artillery Battalion; 1st female Company Commander in the 51st Signal Battalion; 1st AA woman to serve as the company grade assignments officer in the Combat Support Division of PERSCOM; 1st woman to command a battalion in the 35th Signal Brigade (Airborne); 1st AA woman selected to the rank of brigadier general in the Army Signal Corps; and 2d AA woman selected to general officer in the Army Competitive Category.
BG (R) Richardson and husband, Bill, have been married for 41 years.
BG Velma "Von" L. Richardson
In August of 2002, CSM Strickland was assigned as the Command Sergeant Major of the Installation Management Agency (IMA) and had responsibility for base operations on all Army Installations, worldwide. Following four years with IMA, she moved to the Assistance Chief of Staff, Installation Management as the Senior Enlisted Advisor and in October 2006, upon IMA’s redesignation to Installation Management Command, CSM Strickland served as the first Command Sergeant Major until July 2008.
CSM Strickland culminated her career voluntarily deploying as the CSM and Base Camp Sergeant Major for the Base Support Group in Kabul, responsible for the planning and execution of the International Security Assistance Force mission across Afghanistan for 15 months.
Her military school includes the Sergeants Major Academy and the Command Sergeant Major course. She is a member of the USAREUR Sergeant Morales Club and has a degree in management.
Her awards and decorations include The Legion of Merit (3), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, (First Oak Leaf), Meritorious Service Medal (6th Oak Leaf), the Bronze Star, and Humanitarian Service Medal.
CSM Debra L. Strickland,
SPECIAL RECOGNITION OF CHAMPION AWARDEES
On May 10, 2022, Commander Philpot was inducted into the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame, and he is the first and only Navy person among more than 200 inductees, which include Generals Colin L. Powell and Dwight D. Eisenhower. On March 22, 2023, The Army Women’s Foundation inducted him into their Hall of Fame Special Recognition of Champions at Fort Lee, Virginia. Commander Philpot is honored that he has been blessed to serve as a part of many historical projects honoring military veterans. Among his achievements, he served as the Project Director of two committees that developed, designed and fundraised over a million dollars for eight monuments.
Seven of the eight monuments are located in the Buffalo Soldier Monument Park on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Among them are these five with the dedication dates: the $1.3 million, 13-ft tall, bronze Buffalo Soldier Horse and Rider statue and ponds, (July 1992); General Roscoe Robinson, the Army’s first Black four-star, (May 1995); the 555th “Triple Nickles,” the Army’s first Black Parachute Infantry (September 2006); Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper, West Point’s first Black graduate, (March 2007); and Brigadier General Benjamin Grierson, the first White officer assigned to the Buffalo Soldier 10th Cavalry, (August 2012).
The sixth monument honors General Colin L. Powell as an “American Son, Statesman, and Soldier.” General and Mrs. Alma Powell attended the dedication in Sept 2014. General Powell was the originator of the idea to build the Buffalo Soldier Monument.
The seventh project in the park honors the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. The $250,000, award-winning 6888th Monument was dedicated on November 30, 2018, with five 6888th veterans in attendance. The unit, known as the “Six Triple Eight,” consisted of 855 WACs. The majority were Black, with Puerto Rican, Mexican and Austrian members. It was the only such unit deployed overseas during WWII. Their mission was to clear a two to three-year mail backlog in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). Of all the monuments, Commander Philpot states that “the 6888th Monument and its members are the closest to [his] heart.”
An eighth monument, which honors the only known “Female Buffalo Soldier,” Cathay Williams, was dedicated July 2017. It was then donated and placed at the African-American Richard Allen Cultural Center and Museum in Leavenworth, Kansas.
Commander Philpot played a pivotal role in gaining approvals for the following: the first USPS “Buffalo Soldier” Commemorative Stamp in 1994; the Army’s Meritorious Unit Commendation posthumously for the 6888th, and the 6888th Congressional Gold Medal in 2021.
In 2019, he became aware that Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Harriet West Waddy had died in 1999 and did not receive a military burial service. He coordinated with other organizations and paid the expenses for one held on May 24, 2019. She was the first Black WAC promoted to Major and one of two Black LTCs during WWII. She was an Advisor to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. Major Waddy also served as a Military Aide to Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby, the first WAC Director.
In 2022, Commander Philpot was selected to write the foreword for “Heroes In The Shadows.” It is the only book focusing on the 28 Black sailors assigned to the USS Indianapolis (CA-35). All of them perished when the ship was sunk by Japanese torpedoes in July 1945.
For his 33 years of leadership and resolute devotion to honor military women and men, Commander Philpot has received many local and national recognitions: Army’s Legion of Merit; National VFW Americanism Award; NAACP Roy Wilkens Award; Secretary of Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, and the City of Leavenworth, Kansas, named a ‘day’ in his honor.
The 6888th Monument has brought global awareness to the unit and inspired several documentaries, stage plays, an Opera, and at least two movies. Commander Philpot volunteers and eagerly shares nearly a decade of meticulously accumulated “factual and primary reference materials” about the 6888th. to ensure their service, mission, history and legacy are told accurately.
Commander Philpot is married to the former Othello Hamler of Northport, Alabama. They have two daughters and four grandchildren—three young men and “one beautiful, talented and very intelligent young lady,” whom he “tries his best to spoil.” His future plans are to use his leadership and fundraising skills to raise $50 million to increase awareness, research and a cure for Sickle Cell. This terrible condition affects one of his grandsons.
Military Organization Affiliations: National 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association; National Paratrooper Infantry Association; Heart of America Tuskegee Airmen Chapter; Madison-Alexander Buffalo Soldier Chapter; American Legion, and VFW.
“There is no pleasure in achievement if it is not shared.”
--LTC Charity Adams Earley, First Commanding Officer 6888th Battalion
CDR Carlton D. Philpot,
Early in her career SSG Davis became an advocate for women who serve as she was only one of two enlisted women when arriving to her first unit. As women integrated into her infantry battalion, she would often find herself in a position to ensure the female Soldier’s perspective was represented. Examples include advocating for gender integration at the platoon level for field operations to ensure female Soldiers weren’t isolated from their unit, as well as ensuring the unit’s medical platoon had pregnancy tests and other feminine products available during a long-term field operation.
In 2020, the Army released the update to AR 670-1 which allowed for ponytails while wearing Advanced Combat Helmets (ACHs) and other headgear that are otherwise difficult to wear with a bun. Shortly thereafter, the Air Force released their grooming standards update to reflect a ponytail full-time option for women. SSG Davis asked herself “why can’t we have this too?” Using the networking tools available through social media, SSG Davis requested the Air Force data used to support the ponytail full-time option and worked with other women across all army components and ranks to write a white paper to support a full-time ponytail option for Army women.
Key points of this paper included medical conditions caused by tight buns including traction alopecia and migraines, cultural concerns to include women from Native American and Indian background whose long hair is part of their identify but does not fit within the bun standards, and also explained that a comfortable long hairstyle would benefit the female Soldier. Based on arguments presented, MG Tammy Smith reconvened the 670-1 board. Due to this paper, women now have an additional option for long hair in all uniforms.
She currently serves as a Senior Instructor in the 35F AIT Committee, 305th MI BN in Fort Huachuca, Arizona. In 2024, she will attend the Joint Military Attaché School in the DC area with a follow-on assignment as a Defense Attaché.