FARGO — There are only 30 female officers in the U.S. Army, and now they’re from rural Karlsruhe and graduated from North Dakota State University.
brig. General Rebecca B. McElwain was promoted to the rank in a ceremony on January 9 at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina.
Known by the last name Bloodwish while living in North Dakota, McElwain, 49, has held a variety of positions, from tactical-level commander in the Army to national strategic-level work with Congress, the Pentagon, and the State Department. 28 year veteran with extensive experience.
In a recent phone interview from the show AFB, McElwain told Forum that her new role means a legacy for her family, North Dakota and country.
“Considering being promoted to general, it is now etched in Congressional history,” she said. “I’m really honored to be part of the Legacy aspect.”
She said she didn’t know of any other female generals in North Dakota.
McElwain is assigned to the U.S. Army Central Division, where he serves as Assistant Chief of Staff, G8 Auditor, and is responsible for the headquarters’ budgeting and resource management.
In essence, McElwain is tasked with ensuring that all Army operations in the Middle East have adequate funding and resources to protect U.S. interests.
Her path began on a rural Karlsruhe family farm, graduated from Minot High School in 1992, joined the North Dakota Army Reserve in 1994, joined the Minnesota Army National Guard in 1995, and joined the NDSU in 1997. I graduated and was in the active duty Army. same year.
Her first flight was to attend basic training, but she later traveled to various parts of Asia, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East for military service.
McElwain said the first female Army officers received the pin in 1970, less than 0.5% of all officers at the time.
Currently, the percentage of female officers is about 11%.
“It speaks to how the Army continues to evolve,” she said.
Born in Minot, McElwain is now a five-generation family farm near Karlsruhe, a 40-minute drive away, started more than 120 years ago by her German, Russian and Norwegian ancestors. I grew up.
When she lived there it was a dairy farm, assisted by many large families and now run by an uncle who grows the crops.
She said she rarely went to town to buy groceries and it was a sustainable way of life.
“We had almost everything we needed,” she said.
Garbage was fed to animals, tinplate was recycled, and paper products were burned. This was a good foundation for becoming a military financial manager.
“I’m very frugal and I care about taxpayers’ money, so I often say I’m the perfect example of what the Army needs,” McElwain said.
No one in her family had ever attended, so it was difficult going to college after high school.
She first attended a community college in Wyoming with plans to transfer to Colorado, but then her father fell ill and moved back to live with him in Minot. Her mother died many years ago.
It was while in her father’s care that she acquired a “patriotism bug” and joined the Army Reserves.
“Corporate America wasn’t mine. It was more about, ‘How can I serve other people,'” she said.
After her father recovered, she left for NDSU and moved from the Army Reserves in Minot to the ROTC unit in Fargo. She also served in the Minnesota National Guard at Moorhead.
While at NDSU, she lived alone in a small apartment across from a restaurant in downtown Fargo, whose name she could not remember, and worked as a waitress.
“I felt very independent,” she said.
To start her military career, McElwain intended to enlist in the Air Force, but when a job as a medic was not guaranteed there, she switched to the Army, where the position was guaranteed.
Since then, she has focused on the financial side of military operations.
McElwain has partnered with banks in Germany, Macedonia, Thailand and Iraq to lead emergency and operational banking missions to ensure the availability of cash during military operations.
She deployed with her forces to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, disbursing more than $1.2 billion in cash support for operations across the region.
Along the way, she met her future husband, Army Ordnance Officer James McElwain, and both were sent to Kosovo.
The introduction took place at the rugby field. With her bad luck, she tried to put together a women’s team, so she ended up playing on the men’s team.
“I always say my first tackle was love,” McElwain said with a laugh.
Both returned to where they were stationed in Germany and eventually eloped to Denmark.
Their son, Andrew, now 19, is a sophomore at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and plays for the rugby team.
James McElwain is currently a private chef pursuing a career in holistic health and holistic nutrition. He also volunteers as a mentor to veterans who want to join the culinary industry.
James received the honor of promoting his wife in an informal ceremony on January 9th.
Perhaps in March, a formal event for family and friends will be held at the Military Women’s Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. .
She said the U.S. military had given her many things.
“Now it’s my turn to continue reinvesting in the Army,” McElwain said.