On December 20, 1989, US Army Captain Linda Bray, then 29 years old, was the first woman to command American soldiers in battle, during the invasion of Panama. She ordered her team of 30 to fire on soldiers of the Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF) who refused to surrender their positions at a dog kennel which was being used as a barracks for Special Operations troops. According to the Women In Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, “She anticipated a routine operation, but the battle turned into a three-hour, infantry-style firefight.” Three PDF soldiers were killed, and one was taken prisoner. Captain Bray is one of the women featured in the PBS Makers episode “Women in War,” which airs Tuesday, October 21 at 9 pm.
Other “Women In Combat” featured in the episode include CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, war reporters Molly Moore, Clarissa Ward and Christiane Amanpour; General Angela Salinas (USMC Ret.); and Vice Admiral Michelle Howard of the United States Navy.