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Linda L. Bray


Captain, US Army

First woman to lead combat.

In 1989, over 700 women went to Panama in support of Operation Just Cause. Linda led 30 Soldiers of the 988th Military Police company into combat to seize an enemy objective near Panama City. Her role ignited the debate over the role of women in the combat roles in the Army.

She was accused of embellishing accounts of what happened when her platoon bested an elite unit of the Panamanian Defense Force. After her story became public, Congress fiercely debated whether she and other women had any business being on the battlefield.

The Army refused to grant her and other female soldiers who fought on the ground in Panama the Combat Infantryman Badge. She was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, an award for meritorious achievement in a non-combat role.

In 1991, she resigned her commission after eight years of active duty and took a medical discharge related to a training injury.

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