Meet the Alabama grad who is blazing new trails in the Army
Army Lt. Gen. Gwen Bingham, a graduate of the University of Alabama and native of the Yellowhammer State, has been achieving record firsts and making both her alma mater and state proud.
As detailed in a writeup by the university about her recent visit to campus, Bingham is currently assistant chief of staff for installation management at the Pentagon, where she directly supports both the secretary and chief of staff for the Army.
Her list of achievements is lengthy and still growing. Bingham is the first female officer ever to hold the position of quartermaster general. The UA alumna is also the first African-American woman to reach the rank of three-star general from an Army ROTC program and is currently one of three women to hold the rank of lieutenant general in the Army.
Back on campus to speak to the ROTC program from which she made her start, Bingham was hard at work inspiring the next generation of Army leaders reared in Tuscaloosa.
“UA cadets’ intellect, spirit and drive are always so heartwarming for me, and it lets me know our Army is in good hands. I’m always on a high when I come back,” Bingham said.
Bingham’s recent visit was particularly special for UA ROTC Battalion Commander Mary Ellen Sinnott, who, like Bingham, will work as a logistician in the Army. Sinnott explained that she admires Bingham’s ascension through the Army ranks and the many milestones she has achieved.
“She’s super supportive of all the cadets coming out, but especially the logisticians, because she’s worked her entire career in that field,” Sinnott outlined.
“As a woman in the military, she’s achieved so many firsts … it’s really cool to have an open dialogue and have her as a mentor,” she added.
Bingham, a native of Troy, received a four-year Army ROTC scholarship from UA and enrolled in 1977. She later joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and served in the UA Student Government Association.
The university writeup noted, “Visits to campus are nostalgic for Bingham, both in seeing how campus has grown and evolved, and in keeping up with UA’s Army ROTC program. She said cadets often seek advice about what to expect during their first assignments as second lieutenants. They’re equally as interested in the ‘shining’ moments in her career, but Bingham places more emphasis on the ‘team and mission,’ which have helped her achieve her individual career milestones.”
“I just see myself from the humble beginnings of being a cadet in ROTC in high school for three years, and then winning a four-year ROTC scholarship,” Bingham advised. “But what I really want people to take away from my life’s journey is to maintain a positive attitude, do the best job you can possibly do, and at the end of the day, know that you are really trying to make a positive difference for the men and women on your team.
“Working at the Pentagon is a humbling experience, but one I take very seriously, because, at the end of the day, we’re all supporting that man or woman on point all around the globe,” she added.
Bingham’s story and presence in the Army’s national leadership team is a shining light for others to follow.
“It’s an incredible source of pride for us,” Sinnott concluded. “[Bingham] is an incredible alumna, but also an incredibly involved alumna, and that makes it so much better.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn