Maj. Michelle F. McDevitt wraps up a “first” in her 13-year career as she leaves her Aerial Delivery and Field Services Department deputy director position here in August.
“Mr. Al Wagner (ADFSD technical writer) brought it to my attention that I was the first female to serve in this position,” she noted. “I thought it was pretty cool to have this opportunity and am honored to have served here.”
Director Jason J. Hanifin found it curious no other women had filled his second-in-command position.
“That’s a great achievement,” he said. “During my three years here, I’ve always selected the best candidates available as my deputy. Maj. McDevitt certainly fit that standard and more, and we are proud to say she is the first but certainly not the last.”
ADFSD is one of five major training departments at CASCOM’s Quartermaster School. The department conducts initial entry training for two military occupational specialties: parachute rigger, 92R, and shower and laundry specialist, 92S. The Sling Load Inspector Certification Course, Airdrop Load Inspector Certification Course and numerous other functional area instructional programs fall under ADFSD as well.
Hanifin explained McDevitt’s role as deputy and how well she fit it. He said, among other duties, she was the functional expert in institutional and unit training along with doctrine development to the Joint Forces representing all commands across active and reserve components. She had full responsibility for developing plans, policies and technical processes for the aerial delivery community along with coordinating the training support for NATO and partner nations.
“She also was responsible for the Quartermaster School and CASCOM’s highest risk training operation, which is the airborne missions conducted at Fort Pickett with novice advanced individual training students,” he added.
“Her character stands out as one of her biggest attributes, as it showcases a genuine concern for the mission and her Soldiers. She is an intelligent and extremely knowledgeable officer who has educated senior leaders on Fort Lee and within the aerial delivery enterprise.”
McDevitt feels her biggest accomplishments come from taking care of people.
“As a leader, we have the opportunity and responsibility to advocate for our people. When I see them do great things, I am proud,” she acknowledged. “I know it is my Soldiers who accomplish the mission, and I don’t ever lose sight of that.
“The instructors here are extremely knowledgeable and competent in their profession, and it’s always a pleasure to see them advance,” she continued. “While here, I have seen several of my guys and girls pin the next rank, win boards, earn badges and proudly represent the department.”
McDevitt said she was lucky to be reunited with Chief Warrant Officer 5 Cortez Frazier Sr. before he retired and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kevin J. Sims. “These two are stellar warrants who always put their best foot forward,” McDevitt acknowledged. “Airborne days are the best because that is putting our work to the test.”
McDevitt knows quite a bit about those airborne days as she has 90 jumps to her credit and is a jumpmaster in addition to being master rated with the variety of operations that entails.
“I had a motivated Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor, Sgt. 1st Class Downey, who had previously served in the 82nd Airborne Division, and I knew that is where I wanted to start out and serve,” she said of her earliest influences, and added a highlight of her time in service. “I also got to participate in LEAPFEST, an international airborne competition in Rhode Island.”
While being airborne is truly a “high” of her career, she’s had other incredible opportunities as well.
“As a first lieutenant, I was the detachment commander for riggers in Bagram, Afghanistan, for 12 months then extended an additional six months with my brigade,” McDevitt explained. “One of the best experiences in my career was attending the 68th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy as a captain.”
She further detailed that she was part of a vendor vetting task force for all of Afghanistan, giving her the opportunity to work with military intelligence and judge advocate general officers from different branches and run the detachment out of Kandahar.
“Last year as a doctrine developer with CASCOM, I went to Peru to teach doctrine, then Singapore for an Army Staff Talk.”
Also during this latest assignment, the Mobile, Ala., native has worked closely with Director Hanifin, together navigating the ADFSD ups and downs including the latest challenges of COVID-19.
“We’re listening to our instructors and department for their suggestions or concerns. To address COVID fatigue, we have looked at giving our people days off to help their resiliency,” she elaborated. “The pandemic has been challenging, but we continue to provide a safe environment for training our students to the best of our ability.”
The challenges of COVID-19, fellow Soldiers, co-workers and career highlights all remind her of why she joined the Army.
“I wanted to be part of something greater than myself,” she said while reflecting on that desire to serve at an early age. “I have a strong family tradition of service, as my grandfather and father both served in the Coast Guard, and my brother also serves in the Army.”
McDevitt will take her desire to serve to her next assignment at Fort Stewart, Ga., as she continues to work toward her ultimate goal of a battalion command.