First woman to become Command Sgt. Major for 101st Airborne Division starts new role

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FT. CAMPBELL, Ky. (WEHT) – A historical change of leadership in one of the most well-known divisions in the U.S. Army was made official today. 

Command Sergeant Major Veronica Knapp becomes the first woman to take over the role for the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell.

There have been 33 Command Sergeant Majors here at Fort Campbell since the mid-1950s. Today, Command Sergeant Major Veronica Knapp became the 34th, and the first woman to do so.

“This is one great leader passing it on to another great leader,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph P. “J.P.” McGee.

Command Sgt. Major Knapp takes over for Command Sgt. Major Bryan Barker, who had the role for two years. She’ll now oversee the nearly 20,000 soldiers in the 101st, and an additional 10,000 currently at Fort Campbell.

“Sgt. Major Knapp is coming in at a good time. We got the division ready to close back here, have the division back at Fort Campbell, I look forward to her taking it to new heights,” said CSM Barker.

“Words cannot express how honored and humbled I am to serve this elite division,” CSM Knapp said during her speech at today’s division change ceremony.

The Ohio native served in every leadership position from team leader to her current rank, and won numerous awards in her more than 20 years in the Army.

“I understand our future is war, and I accept all responsibility without reservation. It is the honor of my life to stand here today amongst some of the greatest leader-soldiers and civilian workforce in the Army,” she said.

But Major Gen. Mcgee says her skills and experience and leadership is what made him select her.

“She brings a perspective that is shaped by her being a battalion commander, a brigade sergeant major, and one of the unique things about Command Sgt. Major Knapp is that at every level, she’s been in charge of men and women, and you don’t see that all the time,” he said.

Command Sergeant Major Knapp has also served in bases as far away as Cuba and the Korean Peninsula before coming here to Fort Campbell. 

(This story was originally published on May 27, 2021)

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