During Women’s History Month, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Nora Wingfield Tyson, the first woman carrier strike group commander.
A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Nora Wingfield Tyson graduated with an English degree from Vanderbilt University in 1979. After graduating, she attended Officer Candidate School before commissioning in December 1979.
After finishing her first tour in Washington, D.C., in 1983, Tyson became a naval flight officer. She later served three tours in Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Four (VQ-4) in both Naval Air Station Patuxent River and Tinker Air Force Base. Until 2007, Tyson took on multiple on-shore and off-shore duty assignments. These ranged from serving as a political-military planner and assistant in the Asia-Pacific Division of the Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate for the Joint Chiefs of Staff to undertaking two deployments in the Persian Gulf for Operation Iraqi Freedom. In September 2007, she promoted to rear admiral (lower half) and was the first woman to command the forward deployed Singapore-based Task Force 73.
On July 29, 2010, Tyson became the first woman to command a carrier strike group with the nuclear-powered carrier USS George H.W. Bush as its flagship. As the commander of Carrier Strike Group 2, she lead 13 ships, 80 combatant aircrafts and about 9,000 sailors. She lead the strike group in combat operations in support of Operations New Dawn and Enduring Freedom. In August 2011, Tyson promoted to rear admiral (upper half) with former President George H.W. Bush administering the oath to office. In July 2013, she promoted to vice admiral and became deputy commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
In July 2015, Tyson assumed command of the U.S. 3rd Fleet, becoming the first woman to command an operational numbered fleet. Under her command, she oversaw several 3rd Fleet forward deployments, which included two surface action groups and a carrier strike group.
When asked about Tyson’s impact on the Navy, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Scott Swift said, “There’s a piece of Nora Tyson that exists in every sailor beyond 3rd Fleet, really across the Navy. She’s had a huge impact on the Navy. It’s extraordinary what she’s done as a Navy officer and, although she won’t say it, what she’s done as a woman because of the barriers to her success. The success women in the Navy enjoy today is in large measure because of the barriers she knocked down.”
After almost 40 years of service, Tyson retired in September 2017. In an interview with the San Diego Tribune, she said that she wants to dedicate her retired years to service, especially by working with American youth.
“I want to do something that I’m passionate about,” she said. “I want to give back. I don’t want to do something just to do something.”
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Elizabeth Jefimova
Editors: Julia Pack and Katherine Berman
Fact checker: Caroline Seyer
Graphic artist: Katie Rahill