Women’s AF history expands with new four-star

  • Published
  • By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information
  • Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie
In Air Force history a legacy has been written, by women, for women. The walls of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial are filled with stories of historic and iconic women from all U.S. military services that have served the nation.

History has once again been written. Those halls now hold a new story as Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, military deputy, was promoted to the rank of general, effective June 8. She is now the third female four-star general in Air Force history, following in the footsteps of remarkable women who paved the way.

“This is a great day for Ellen and (her) family (and) from my perspective it is a great day for the United States Air Force,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. “(Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James) and I expect an awful lot out of our four-star generals in the Air Force. We expect that they be able to defend the nation. We expect them to protect the institution and we expect them to lead, inspire and nurture the Airmen and families who give our institution life. We are extremely confident that Pawlikowski will do all those things.”

Pawlikowski entered the Air Force in 1978 through the ROTC program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and became the first female officer to receive a commission from that program. She went on to attend the University of California at Berkeley, and received a doctorate in chemical engineering in December 1981, and entered the active-duty Air Force in April 1982.

Through the guidance and honorable love of her mother, late husband, family, friends and Airmen she has led, Pawlikowski said there are three statements that define her.

“In the words of my mother, ‘Just do the best no matter how hard it is, no matter how menial you think it is, just do the best that you can; and never quit,’” Pawlikowski said. “And from my late husband, the message of ‘Do the right thing even when it’s hard’ resonates within me.

“Madam secretary, (Gen. Welsh,) you know you have my commitment and promise that I guarantee you that I will do the best that I can,” Pawlikowski continued. “I will never, ever quit and I will do the right thing even when it’s hard, because that’s who I am.”

The career of Pawlikowski has ranged from a variety of technical management, leadership and staff positions including command at the wing and center levels.

Continuing her career as a leader, Pawlikowski will assume command this summer as the head of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

As she stood on the stage of the Woman’s Memorial, in the presence of so many men and women who have defined history, Pawlikowski said she truly felt like she was standing on the shoulders of giants.