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History made as first woman to lead U.S. military branch assumes command

Admiral Linda Fagan becomes the 27th Commandant of the United States Coast Guard.

WASHINGTON — With a simple exchange of salutes, history was made on Wednesday.

For the first time in the country's 246 years, there is now a female officer leading a branch of the American armed forces

She is Admiral Linda Fagan, who was previously the service's second-in-command, graduating from the Coast Guard Academy in 1985, in just the sixth class that included women. 

She steadily rose through the ranks, serving at sea on an icebreaker, and ashore as a marine safety officer.

"I'm immensely grateful to the many pioneers who paved the way," she said. "I'm proud to be part of this long history of service and dedication and groundbreaking and I'm committed to carrying these principles forward."

Fagan's nomination to the post was approved by the Senate by unanimous consent in May.

Among Fagan's many admirers was President Joe Biden, who presided over the change of command ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

"There is no one more qualified to lead the proud women and men of the Coast Guard," he said. "And she will also be the first woman to serve as commandant of the Coast Guard, the first woman to lead a branch of the United States Armed forces. And it's about time."

Added Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas: "Today is an historic day for the United States Coast Guard, an historic day for the United States."

Fagan relieved the 26th commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Karl Schultz, who served in the post for four years, and who will now retire after 39 years of service.

Other recent military "firsts" include Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Brown Junior, who is the first Black officer to become a service chief, and Lloyd Austin, the first African American to serve as Secretary of Defense.

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