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Women In The Military

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of myself, Representative Slaughter and the rest of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues. Today, the 6th Annual Women in Military Wreath Laying Ceremony hosted by the Caucus was held at Arlington Cemetery. The purpose is to honor our nation's servicewomen and women veterans for their courage and achievements, and to remember women who have died in service to the United States.

I would like to take some time to recognize the five honorees of this ceremony. These women serve their respective branches with honor, dignity, and courage. These highly decorated leaders chose to defend our freedom and embody the spirit of those that served before them.

Command Sergeant Major Michele S. Jones, U.S. Army Reserve, has held many leadership positions within the Department of the Army. She entered the Army in September of 1982. As the first woman to serve as class president at the United States Sergeants Major Academy (Class 48), she distinguished herself and went on to be the first woman to serve as the CSM of the Army Reserve.

CSM Jones has held every key NCO position, to include squad leader, section leader, platoon sergeant, first sergeant and command sergeant major. Her awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal just to name a few.

Master Chief Petty Officer Darlene M. Gemuend was honored, representing the United States Naval Reserve. She completed Basic Training in January 1978 and went on to attend Personnelman ``A'' school.

Master Chief Gemuend has served the Navy at a variety of duty stations and capacities. She is currently serving as the Naval Operations Reserve Battle Force Integration Manpower Analyst at the Arlington Navy Annex. Master Chief Gemuend's personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Recruiting Excellence Awards and various other service and campaign awards.

Master Sergeant Leandria L. Hollinshead is the superintendent of the Command Post, 347th Rescue Wing, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. She was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for her sustained efforts of Hurricane Elena. From 1990 to 1992 she continued to sharpen her Command and Control skills as Combat Alert Center Controller, King Salmon AFS, Alaska. As the single point of contact between NORAD and the alert aircrews, she was solely responsible to decode emergency orders, scramble, and launch alert aircraft to intercept Soviet Union air vehicles attempting to penetrate U.S. borders. Following the incident of the USS Cole, she deployed to Saudi Arabia to establish theater command post operations for the Commander of the Joint Task Force--Southwest Asia.

Continuing to excel in her professional education, she captured the John L. Levitow award at her NCO Academy graduation in June 1999 and was soon after promoted to Master Sergeant. MSgt Hollinshead is the recipient of the AF Meritorious Service Medal, AF Commendation Medal, AF Outstanding Unit Award, and the AF Good Conduct Medal.

Master Gunnery Sergeant Carole A. Hawkins enlisted in the Marine Corps in February of 1973. Currently, she is the senior enlisted female in the Marine Corps, and the senior enlisted administrator. Master Gunnery Sergeant Hawkins is assigned as the Administrative Chief for the Personnel Management Division, Manpower and Reserve Affairs Department, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Quantico, VA.

Master Gunnery Sergeant Hawkins has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy, Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

Master Chief Linda Reid enlisted in the Coast Guard Reserve in 1975. She drilled at Coast Guard Reserve Unit Seattle before moving to the Washington, DC, area in 1977. Master Chief Reid has been with the Coast Guard's Sea Partners Campaign since its beginning in 1994. As director, she oversees policy, budget and operations for this nationwide environmental public outreach program. Master Chief Reid coordinated Coast Guard participation in the 1985, 1989 and 1993 Presidential Inaugurals.

Master Chief Reid was advanced to the grade of Master Chief Petty Officer in May 1993, the first woman in the Storekeeper rating to achieve that rank in the Coast Guard. She is a Silver Lifetime Member of the U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association (CPOA) and a member of the Foreign Joint Service Non-Commissioned Officers Association, the Fleet Reserve Association and the Non-Commissioned Officers Association.

Mr. Speaker, it is with great admiration and pride that the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues honor the five servicewomen and their accomplishments. We are living in a day and age when the thought of a woman serving in the military is not the exception, it's the norm. There are over 2 million women serving and they are making a huge contribution to America's military operations around the world . . . as so many us have seen from America's recent victory in Iraq.

It is an honor for each member of the Caucus to highlight these exceptional women. The Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard are well represented by our 2003 Women in Military Service Honorees.