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Local woman leads Fort Irwin logistics team
Barstow native is second woman to hold the position
Total number of women serving in the military: 214,098 or 14.6% of military
Army: 76,694 or 13.6% of branch
Marine Corps: 13,677 or 6.8% of branch
Navy: 53,385 or 16.4% of branch
Air Force: 63,552 or 19.1% of branch
Coast Guard: 6,790 or 15.7% of branch
FORT IRWIN • Women make up just 14 percent of active U.S. Army soldiers, and one local woman is making her mark in military service.
Lt. Col. Michaele McCulley is the officer in charge of the Goldminers Team at Fort Irwin, Senior Logistics Trainer at the National Training Center and is the second woman ever to hold the title.
Prior to this role, she was stationed in Germany and deployed to Afghanistan where she was the first woman to command the Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment — a battalion-size unit with over 700 assigned soldiers. For a year, she oversaw logistical work in southern Afghanistan including moving supplies around the battlefield, running medical clinics, maintenance and warehouse supplies.
“For me it’s always been an honor and a privilege to serve our country,” she said.
McCulley was born and raised in Barstow and joined the U.S. Army 21 years ago as a Medical Service Corps Officer after graduating from California State University Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She said she planned to do her obligatory four years and finish, but she grew to love her work and became grounded in her military roles.
Her latest position means she coaches, teaches and trains battalion commanders and staffs on the application and execution of combined arms doctrine to improve the war fighting skills of the Support Battalion.
“My favorite quote abbreviated is by John F. Kennedy: Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” she said.
In her 21 years of service, McCulley has been stationed at Wiesbaden, Germany, Camp Darby, Italy, Fort Hood Texas, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Fort Irwin, Iraq, and southern Afghanistan.
“I’m just very proud of what she’s accomplished and how far she’s got,” her brother Ray Garcia said. “The fact that she’s the second woman in the history of the fort to hold her position means something.”
McCulley is the youngest of eight children, the daughter of Ramon and Lucille Garcia, and has three brothers and four sisters. She is the only person within her immediate family to join the military. She is also the mother of six children, two which are stepchildren. She said balancing work and family is challenging in her profession but that leading soldiers in military service and raising a family requires many of the same traits and values.
“Often times I have placed the needs of soldiers and the mission or training over the needs of my family,” McCulley said. “To do them both justice requires a lot of time and dedication and sacrifice. I am blessed to have a family that understands the sacrifices.”
Although the number of women in military service is small compared to men, McCulley said she’s never felt like a minority in her field or discriminated against.
“I know that it (discrimination) occurs, but for me personally I’ve never felt that I was discriminated against or sexually harassed,” she said. “But I also believe if I’m uncomfortable with something I address it with that person directly.”
As far as her career opportunities she said, “I can honestly say women are treated equally with equal opportunities and responsibility, with the exception of serving in the infantry, armor or artillery.”
After her time at Fort Irwin is up this summer McCulley said she will change duty locations and go back to Fort Leavenworth, Kan. and “if all goes well” be an instructor at the Command and General Staff College. She also plans to retire within the next five years.