First female four-star general Dunwoody honors military family at Fort Gordon

Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody made Army history as the first female four-star general, but it was her family’s heritage that prompted her visit Friday to Fort Gordon.

“Believe me, the entire Dunwoody family is truly thankful for all the hard work that made this possible,” Dunwoody said during the re-dedication of a Spanish-American War monument to her great-grandfather, Brig. Gen. Henry Harrison Chase Dunwoody.

That Dunwoody was the chief signal officer in Cuba from 1898 to 1901. He was honored in 1960 by the surviving veterans of the war with a large Spanish-American War monument at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the original home of the Army’s Signal Corps. When the Army’s communications hub moved to Fort Gordon, that monument to him and a time capsule buried at the 1960 ceremony remained in New Jersey until this year.

On Friday, Dunwoody and her sister were present for the grand opening of Dunwoody Park in the heart of the Signal Center for Excellence Campus. The park on Myer Mall will expand over time, but the original Dunwoody monument and time capsule were unveiled to fanfare and cannon fire.

Dunwoody accepted the honor, but turned the spotlight from herself and dedicated the park to all Signal Corps soldiers.

“We’re more proud of this place ... where our war-fighting communicators are remembered and honored,” Dunwoody said.

In the same vein, she recapped the Signal Corps’ role in that turn-of-the-century war, the first to allow military leaders in Washington to communicate directly with soldiers on the front lines. That was because of the Signal Corps, which laid 3,500 miles of telegraph lines around Cuba and across the Caribbean.

“That’s not much different than the heavy lifting our Signal Corps soldiers are doing today ... in Iraq and Afghanistan,” she said.

The Dunwoodys carry a long tradition of military service: Dunwoody’s father was a brigadier general, and her brother also a West Point graduate. Her sister was the third female Army helicopter pilot.

That factored heavily into her remarks Friday. At one point, Dunwoody joked about what her great-grandfather would think of her earning the four-star rank: “I really hope he’s smiling down on me right now, but he’s probably rolling over in his grave.”

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