News from the Oklahoma National Guard

NEWS | Dec. 16, 2021

Oklahoma Army National Guard promotes first female master sergeant in combat arms

By Sgt. First Class Mireille Merilice Oklahoma National Guard

A female Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldier made history when she became the State’s first female Army Guardsman serving in a combat arms job to be promoted to the rank of master sergeant.

Master Sgt. Megan Mathews, operations sergeant for the 1st Battalion, 160th Field Artillery Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, was promoted to the rank of master sergeant in a ceremony held at the Oklahoma National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters in Oklahoma City, Dec. 15, 2021.

In late 2015, the Department of Defense opened all Army combat arms positions to women. Previously, women had served in various capacities in combat zones but were prohibited from obtaining combat military occupational specialties such as air defense artillery, field artillery, armor, cavalry, aviation, infantry, and special forces.

Lt. Col. Jack Vaughan, battalion commander for the 1-160th said Mathews’ promotion is a direct reflection of who she is as a leader and a noncommissioned officer.

“Not only is this a win for the 160th, it’s a win for the IBCT and the State of Oklahoma,” Vaughan said.

Mathews’ enlisted into the Massachusetts Army National Guard in 1996 as a medical specialist before transferring to the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 2001. Since 2001, she has served in numerous positions of responsibility to include combat medic instructor, and brigade medical and readiness NCO.

In 2015, having excelled in her previous career field, Oklahoma Army National Guard leadership encouraged Mathews to reclassify from a medic to a cannon crew member.

“I was originally asked to come over to provide senior leadership,” Mathews said. “They needed senior leader females in place before they could start recruiting lower enlisted females.”

Male Soldiers welcomed her and other female Soldiers during the integration, Mathews said.

“It feels good that they see the potential in you,” Mathews said. “It’s not about men and women, it’s about the fact that those Soldiers, those men, already had enough respect for me to invite me into their world.”

Mathews has received numerous awards and recognition to include the Bronze Star Medal and Meritorious Service Medal. She has deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and competed in and won the Oklahoma NCO of the Year competition in 2006.

Mathews hopes to inspire other females to think beyond their current rank and positions and not allow their gender to define them.

“I feel there’s a job in the Army for everyone,” Mathews said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re male, or if you’re female, or if it’s combat arms. Don’t let that define you, don’t think you can’t because in the past you weren’t allowed to.”
Video by Sgt. Anthony Jones
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