Col. Miyako N. Schanely, an engineer with the U.S. Army Reserve, was promoted to brigadier general in the Army Engineer Corps in December during a ceremony at the 412th Theater Engineer Command’s headquarters in Vicksburg, Miss., where she serves as deputy commander.
The promotion was followed by a pin-on ceremony Jan. 4 at Fort Drum, N.Y.
She is the second Japanese American woman in the armed forces to reach flag rank.
Schanely’s mother, Miyako Tanabe, a native of Honokaa, now resides in Waldorf, Md. She served in the U.S. Air Force, retiring with the rank of captain. Mother and daughter are life members of the Japanese American Veterans Association.
Schanely’s stepfather, Harry Harushi Tanabe, an Army warrant officer, performed counterintelligence work in the Pacific during World War II as the rest of his family was forced into an internment camp.
Schanely told the Watertown Daily Times (New York), “It’s absolutely an honor,” and she hopes this will pave the way for more women to be promoted to flag rank.
After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1986, Schanely served seven years of active duty, which included construction work in Germany and humanitarian efforts in Panama, before transitioning to the U.S. Army Reserve in 1993.
In the more than 20 years in the reserves, she has served in units at stateside installations such as Fort Drum and Fort Dix, N.J. Her overseas assignments included Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and humanitarian missions in Panama, Uruguay, Belize and Honduras.
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services and the first Asian American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, congratulated Schanely.
“Not only has she served her country with honor throughout her career, she is a trailblazer who brings diversity to our armed forces as only the second Japanese American woman to reach flag rank,” Hirono said. “Diversity matters and it is critically important to ensure more Asian American and Pacific Islander women are in the leadership pipelines of the military, federal government and business. General Schanely has family ties to Honokaa on Hawaii Island. I share the state’s pride in her latest success.”
Schanely has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Management from West Point, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Rochester, a Master of Arts in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University and a Master of Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College. Her career awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with Silver Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Commendation Medal with Silver and Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal, the Parachutist Badge and the Jungle Expert Badge.
In her civilian role, as the executive director of the State University of New York North Country Consortium, Schanely oversees a partnership of SUNY campuses bringing a variety of degree programs to the Northern New York area. With her husband, Steve, she resides in Black River, N.Y., and has two grown children.