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Jacqueline D. Van Ovost becomes only female four-star leader in DoD

Jacqueline D. Van Ovost becomes only female four-star leader in DoD
Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost (L), incoming commander of Air Mobility Command, and Gen. Maryanne Miller, AMC commander, talk before the AMC change of command ceremony at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois on Thursday. Photo by Miranda Simpson/U.S. Air Force

Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Jacqueline D. Van Ovost became commander of Air Mobility Command and the fifth female four-star leader in Air Force history Thursday -- and the only woman with four stars currently serving in the military.

Van Ovost succeeded retiring Gen. Maryanne Miller at a change-of-command ceremony at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

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According to the Air Force, Van Ovost was promoted to general a few hours before the change of command ceremony, making her the fifth female general to ever serve in the branch and the Defense Department's only female four-star leader.

"There is no one more qualified and ready to take the reins of Air Mobility Command than Jackie," said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., who officiated Thursday's ceremony.

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"We take great comfort in knowing you and your Airmen are ready to execute global reach, faster, farther and better than ever before."

Before her retirement, Miller was the only female four-star leader in the Department of Defense.

Brown was installed as the Air Force's 22nd Chief of Staff earlier this month, becoming the first African American in history to lead a military service as its highest ranking officer.

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Van Ovost has served in the Air Force for 32 years, flying 4,200 hours in more than 30 aircraft and previously held the title of Deputy Commander of Air Mobility Command at Scott AFB.

Van Ovost holds a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Academy.

She took a test pilot short course and initially was denied the opportunity to apply what she'd learned, but later became a test pilot, anyway.

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"Standing in the stadium, in 1988 at the Air Force Academy, about to throw my hat in the air, I never would have thought I [would become] a four-star," Van Ovost told Air Force Magazine.

"I was very focused on being a pilot, and being the best pilot I could be, and to make a difference in that way. And here we are, standing at the precipice of what might be called a pinnacle of military leadership.

"But frankly, it's not so much a pinnacle. For me, it's a new beginning. It's a new opportunity to ask key questions, to shape the force in a way to make sense, and provide clarity to the strategic environment that we live in."

Van Ovost was nominated to succeed Miller in June and confirmed at the end of July.

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