Linda Bray, of Clemmons, NC, led 45 military police officers in a firefight during the invasion of Panama. She was a US Army Captain at the time. Photo Courtesy US Army.
Raleigh, NC -- The first woman to lead US troops in combat says she's thrilled the Pentagon has changed a policy that banned other women from the battlefield.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted the ban Thursday on women serving in direct combat roles, more than 23 years after then-US Army Capt. Linda Bray, of Clemmons, NC, led 45 military police officers in a firefight during the invasion of Panama.
Bray says her male superiors couldn't believe what she had done and questioned why she had left the safety of a command post to join her soldiers in battle. Lauded by the White House, her actions sparked a heated debate in Congress over whether women belonged in combat.
"I'm so thrilled, excited. I think it's absolutely wonderful that our nation's military is taking steps to help women break the glass ceiling," said Bray. "It's nothing new now in the military for a woman to be right beside a man in operations."
Now that the ban is lifted, Bray says she hopes women sent to war will forge stronger partnerships with their male colleagues.