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SAN ANTONIO (AP) - As Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson took command of U.S. Army North on Monday morning before hundreds of dignitaries, she took stock of a life unbarred by barriers.
The San Antonio Express-News reports a champion swimmer at 8, private aviator at 15, All-American swimmer in college and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot who flew combat missions in 2003, the first year of the Iraq War, she grew up competitive, an athlete whose mom and dad literally let her spread her wings - without artificial limits.
“I’m the daughter of great parents who always told me I could do anything and never put the typical gender norms on me,” she told the crowd. “In fact, as the oldest of four kids, I think my dad thought I was his son for the first 10 years on earth.”
Richardson, 55, spoke briefly after taking command from Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who is retiring after three years here. After a 15-round cannon salute, and with the 323rd Army Band performing songs from the divisions in which he served over a 37-year career, Buchanan and Richardson mounted horses and rode slowly, “trooping the line” of 200 soldiers standing at attention on Staff Post Field near the historic Quadrangle at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, where she’ll work.
They then stood before their boss, Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, as Richardson accepted Army North’s flag to symbolize the transfer of command. O’Shaughnessy leads U.S. Northern Command, or Northcom, created in 2002 to run the Pentagon homeland defense efforts and coordinate support of civil authorities.
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