Linda Bray, of Clemmons, NC, led 45 military police officers in a firefight during the invasion of Panama. She was a US Army Captain at the time. Photo Courtesy US Army.
Clemmons, NC -- The first woman to lead US troops in combat says she's thrilled the Pentagon has changed a policy that banned other women from the battlefield.
Last Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted the ban on women serving in direct combat roles, more than 23 years after then-US Army Capt. Linda Bray, of Clemmons, NC, led 45 military police officers in a fire fight during the invasion of Panama.
READ: Pentagon Makes Women in Combat Rule Change Official
"I wanted to be all that I could be! At the time, that was the slogan for the army and i thought, ' wow,' what a great privilege it would be to serve my country," explained Linda.
She is the first woman to lead American Troops into combat.
"We initially were told that this was the canine unit, the Panamanian military's canine unit and that they were supposedly going to surrender and that there would be no problem," explained Linda.
They did not surrender and pulled Linda's platoon into a firefight. It's a battle they won.
"Oh, I was very proud," said Linda. "There were hundreds of missions that we completed there, going in harms way, and for everybody to get everything done and to make it home safely, oh yeah, you couldn't ask for anything better. If that's your reward... that's the biggest reward you can have in your lifetime."
"I'm so thrilled, excited. I think it's absolutely wonderful that our nation's military is taking steps to help women break the glass ceiling," said Bray. "It's nothing new now in the military for a woman to be right beside a man in operations."
The Associated Press, WFMY News 2