FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Almost 30 years ago an Army battalion commander told a young second lieutenant from Darlington, South Carolina, he would make sure she would never be promoted to first lieutenant because women had no place in the Army. “I said, ‘Sir I’ll be here when you retire.’ And low and behold, I was there shaking his hand and saying thank you for your service, when he retired, said Twanda (Williamson) Young.
After decades of climbing the ranks, Young was promoted to brigadier general during a ceremony here, Dec. 1.
That negative comment so early in her career only further deepened her determination to succeed. But just a few years earlier, Young had never thought about joining the Army until a college friend at Claflin University, where she was earning an English degree on a full scholarship, suggested she check out ROTC. Determined she would have a job upon graduation so she wouldn’t have to move back home with her parents, she signed up for ROTC at South Carolina State University as a cross-enrollment student from Claflin. She went on to earn two Master’s degrees from Ball State University.
“I didn’t initially plan on it being a career, I was just happy to have a job to go to after college,” Young said. “I loved it so I just stayed with it.”
Over the last three decades, she has held numerous leadership assignments at the battalion, brigade, joint task force and strategic command levels. She commanded the Continental United States Replacement Center Battalion at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the Army Reserve Theater Support Group in Fort Shafter, Hawaii. She deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where she served as the CJ1 chief of the Strategic Initiatives Group.
Prior to assuming her current position as the deputy commanding general for U.S. Army Human Resources Command, she was the U.S. Army Reserve G-1 responsible for military personnel management, personnel policy development, personnel strength accounting and readiness of the Army Reserve.
As the DCG for U.S. Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, she will assist the commanding general in executing the full spectrum of human resources programs that develop leaders, build Army readiness, and promote and sustain the well-being of Soldiers, veterans and their families.
One of only a handful of female African-American Army generals, Young never dreamed she’d ever become a general. But throughout her career, she said her goal was to continually work to increase and enhance the effectiveness of the Army’s human resources programs and be approachable to staff, regardless of her rank.
“I want the Soldiers, civilians and contractors who work alongside me to be able to approach me with their concerns and share their ideas. I don’t want rank to impede that,” Young said. “There are sergeants and specialists who have great ideas, so never judge a book by its cover.”
We’re here to make sure that whatever commander for whom we’re working can meet his or her objectives. I can only do that if the staff is able to come to me, talk to me and have that good dialogue so that I’m able to give feedback to the commander so he or she is able to make an informed decision.”
Young believes the keys to her success has been the good home foundation provided by her parents, faith and the integrity to stay true to her word and never waiver on doing the right thing.
She has six siblings, one of whom retired from the Army. Her husband Tracy is from the Simpsonville, Fountain Inn area. They have two daughters.
“I thank God for allowing me to witness my best friend’s ascent to the rank of Brigadier General, and she did it with grace, integrity, and great strength. She is a true role model for our daughters, and many other women in the Army and around country. A proud husband I am.”♦