Military Women Project: SGM Duggan, U.S. Army

I am SGM Pamela Valencia Duggan, hailing from East St Louis, Illinois. I am married to Calvin and have two sons. My mother and father were both key leaders in my life shaping and molding me into the person I am today. My mother, an educated housewife, was always there to support me in every aspect of life and my father, a railroad engineer, worked two jobs for 33 years to support our family. Raising three girls and two boys, both always found time to play a role in our extracurricular activities.

I attended Lucas Elementary, Clark Jr. High and East Saint Louis Senior High School. My high school mascot, an airplane, symbolized “Flyers” indicating to aim high. During my formative years, I remained active in sports as a member of Band, Captain of Varsity cheerleading squad, basketball letterman, as well as track and field. East Side High is known for developing the best athletes in the country, and competing enabled me to train alongside greats like Olympic legend Jackie Joyner. I graduated in the summer of 1980 and joined the military February 1982.

My family is steeped in military tradition. Starting with my great uncle in WWI, other relatives fought in Vietnam, with both brothers and one sister all serving in the United States (US) Marine Corp. My husband, son and nephew are also soldiers in the US Army.

I have served over 34 total years in three separate capacities for the Army: Active Component, Army Reserve and currently Active Guard Reserve. My military occupations include Human Resources Specialist, Automated Logistical Specialist and Chief Operation Medical Non-Commissioned officer (NCO). I have maintained a variety of management positions throughout my career ranging from unit personnel and supply clerk, to the first female to serve as US Central Command Head Quarters (HQ) Commandant Senior Enlisted Leader.

My subsequent positions and duty assignments include: Administrative Assistant, 624th Engineer Platoon, US Army Depot Granite City, IL; Medical Logistics NCO, 410th TMMMC, Ft Meade, Maryland; Hospital and Medical Logistics Specialist 1984th USAH Ft. Wainwright, Alaska; Sr. Medical Logistics NCO 8th Medical Brigade Staten Island, New York; Medical Logistics NCO 865th Combat Support Hospital Utica, NY; Deputy Command Readiness Team US Army Reserve Medical Command, Pinellas Park FL; Chief Medical Operations SGM, 330th Medical Brigade Ft Sheridan, IL; Division Operations SGM, 3rd Medical Command Deployment Support (MCDS) Ft Gillem, GA; US Central Command (HQ) Commandant Senior Enlisted Leader and Army Reserve Engagement Team Senior Enlisted Advisor. I currently serve as Senior Administrative Enlisted Leader for Joint Security Cooperation, US Central Command, Tampa, FL.


My military education includes all NCO instruction through the US Army Sergeants Major Academy, Historic Class 60, Battle Staff Course, Unit Supply Specialist Course, Personnel Administrative training, Lanes Observer Comptroller Course, Medical Logistical Course, Professional Post-Graduate Short Medical Course, Unit Trainers Course, and Training Management Course, Commanders Safety Course, Commanders and Command Sergeants Major Course, USAR Force Management Course, Security Cooperation Management Course, Joint Humanitarian Operations Course.

I hold an Associates of Science from University of Anchorage in General Education; Bachelor of Science in Workforce and Education Development from Southern Illinois University, and am enrolled in Columbia Southern University Masters’ program for Human Resource Management. Awards and decorations include Joint Meritorious Unit Emblem, Army Superior Unit Award, four Meritorious Service Medals, six Army Commendation Medals, Joint Service Achievement Medal, three Army Achievement Medals, seven Good Conduct Medals, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Ribbon with two Bronze Stars, Southwest Asia Campaign with three Bronze Stars, Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/SHG/MD, NCO Professional Development Ribbon denoted with the number four, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Component Overseas Ribbon denoted with the number five, Kuwait Liberation Medal Saudi Arabia, Kuwait Liberation Medal Kuwait. Earned 30 Army Physical Fitness Badges and over 200 command coins for excellence and honorable service.

As I recall my tenure and experiences gathered along the way, I often think about why I joined the Army. I am no different than any American woman whose wanted to obtain an education, make a decent living to support a family and have an opportunity to travel the world. I joined the Army because I wanted to be like my family and serve, but I also identified with the Army slogan of that era “Be all you can be in the Army”.


Being a female in the Army has never been easy, in fact it is both a challenge and a privilege. Women in the military have a history dating back over 400 years. Many on the battlefield were fighting and dying for our country alongside their husbands, but due to laws of the time, females had no military status and were not recognized as members of the Armed Forces. Thanks to those heroic women, acts were passed that allowed me to enlist voluntarily and be recognized for my service.

The military has guided me on an historic path and my alliance with those who came first is my blueprint for service. From 1948-1977 women successfully trained specific duties together by the thousands until 1978 when men and women were integrated and provided the same basic training.

That was only four years before I enlisted in 1982. I was amongst the first women with an opportunity to receive similar training and serve in the same units as men. The challenges involved came quickly as I was not well accepted by male counterparts. I remember being forced off the cattle trucks upon arrival for basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey by male drill sergeants barking, “ you’re not a woman, you’re a Soldier”. I thought what have I gotten myself into? I knew then I had to live up to the credo and “Be All I Could Be.” I did my best at everything and encouraged friends to do the same. I shined my boots until I saw my reflection, and practiced Drill, Ceremonies in the showers and halls of the barracks. I studied my lessons late at night by the hall light, while training extremely hard during grass drills to score high on physical fitness tests. Eventually the Drill Sergeants recognized my dedication and assigned me squad and platoon leader responsibilities. Two friends and myself excelled at everything. We were known as top three in basic training because we taught each other and helped others along the way. Basic training is where my leadership philosophy was established.


I received advanced training at the very first Women Army Corp training Center then called Camp Lee, Virginia, Re-Designated as Ft Lee, Virginia in 1950. I continued my philosophy through advanced training and graduated with honors and a few letters of recommendation. Then, I was assigned to Ft. Hood Texas, the largest Army Base in the United States. Ft Hood historically is where the first woman was sworn into the Army Auxiliary Corp and trained for non-combatant jobs for WW II (World War II). By the time I left Ft Lee, I had was Promoted to Private First Class.

It was at Ft Hood I would learn that life in the Army was different for women. I got married to another service member and was soon expecting my first son. I was faced with the choice to be a mother or soldier and was selected for overseas tour of duty. I had to make the difficult decision to sign my child over to a family member or remain in the military. My spouse was not given the same ultimatum. I chose to be a mother and was reassigned to The United States Army Reserves.

I was assigned to an Engineer platoon that would later be called upon to support Desert Shield/ Desert Storm and I was one of more than 41,000 women, who deployed to the designated combat zone. I was also amongst the 20,000 American soldiers tasked with implementing the military elements in support of Operation Joint Endeavor 1996 and answered the call to the rise of insurgency for Operation Enduring Freedom Operation Iraqi Freedom 2004.

During my tenure I have faced three C’s, Challenges, Changes, and Choices, but I would not trade my experience for anything else in this world. Equality for women has come a long way, we all want a better country, better military and to be better people. As an armed force we are developing; an evolution is in progress. I have enjoyed my journey down this historical path of transforming the ranks and I welcome the challenges and accept the changes in todays Armed Forces. I am driven to serve those below and above me and I strive to achieve excellence. I appreciate the camaraderie with all service members. I love that we are all working together as “One Force” toward the defense of this nation. My ultimate goal is to protect America and secure freedom for our country.

I superseded all my family members in rank and years of service, and the leadership philosophy I discovered over 34 years ago has not wavered but extended. Today the philosophy I manage, live and lead by is simple, precise, and consistent. First I do what is right; never choose the easier wrong over the hard right. I share knowledge to empower the force, I embody the NCO Creed because it is a life style and for me it is personal. I am proud to be a Sr. NCO in United States Army and in the end I would like my legacy to be that those I served with and for, would remember me for making a difference in their professional career and family life and for not only showing the way but going the way.


I would like to impart upon the new generation of Soldiers that there will be many challenges and changes as you serve but serve selflessly and honorably. Their are no “Bad” service members, we all hail from different generations, countries, ethnicities, religious faiths, education levels, family rearing and in todays Armed Forces genders may vary, but never forget the ultimate task before you as a service member and leader. Understand your scope of duties, demonstrate ability to be successful in performance, be dedicated to Army Ethics and Values for they will never misguide your actions. No matter the circumstances be an Army Professional and certified in Competence, Character and Commitment. The American people have entrusted you to preserve the American way of life, protect the homeland and keep America free.