The ROTC program at the University of Kansas is graduating its first female combat arms officer since the Pentagon lifted the ban on women in combat.
Madeline Wilcox, 21, enrolled in the Army ROTC program at the university four years ago when women weren’t allowed to be combat officers. She planned to go into military intelligence, but that changed when the Department of Defense lifted the ban on women in combat.
Her superiors were so impressed with Wilcox’s leadership and athletic abilities they assigned her to be a field artillery officer. Today, Wilcox, who’s graduating with a political science degree, will become the first female combat arms officer to be commissioned by University of Kansas ROTC under the military’s new rules.
“I want to be the good leader that they’ve trained me to be, especially being in the field artillery branch as a woman,” she said. “The Army is trying to integrate women further. I want to be the positive example of why they’re doing it.”
Wilcox will be the second combat arms officer to be commissioned by the Kansas ROTC. Carrie Lamm graduated from the program in 2001, when, before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army allowed women in rear-echelon field artillery units.
The ROTC program at the University of Kansas is 27 percent female, and Lt. Col. John Clark of the KU Department of Military Science said the number of women enrolling in the program has been increasing.
Wilcox plans to at least stay in the Army for the minimum of eight years required by her scholarship. She heads to Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, in June to start her field artillery training.