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45th Infantry's first female battalion commander

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The military can provide opportunities for many women to excel. That's the case for a Lieutenant Colonel taking over the reins of an Oklahoma battalion and making history at the same time.

News on 6 anchor Craig Day went to Camp Gruber for the change of command ceremony.

During a Thursday morning ceremony, soldiers with Oklahoma's 700th Support Battalion bid farewell to an outgoing commander and welcome a new one. Lt. Colonel Tonya Chase takes over the battalion from Lt. Colonel Mark Ferris. Lt Col Tonya Chase, 700th Battalion Commander: “It's an exciting moment. I've grown up in this battalion and I just love it. It's got great soldiers, great people and I'm just looking forward to the opportunity to do good stuff with it."

Lt Colonel Chase will be in charge of the battalion which includes support and transportation, maintenance and medical units. And becomes the first female battalion commander in the history of the 45th Infantry Brigade. "It's a great place for women to be. It just depends on what you want to do with your career and which direction you want to go with it. The opportunities are out there and it’s open for anything almost."

But Chase says she just considers herself a soldier who has moved up the system. Lt. Colonel Chase began her military career in the early 80's, originally intending to only spend six years in the military to pay for college. In the past 20 years, she's become a highly decorated officer. Now she'll lead more than 600 soldiers. "The goals are just to keep training and get them in the right direction so that if we get deployed again, they are ready to face anything that they may face. That's the biggest challenge."

Military service runs in Lieutenant Colonel Chase's family. Her husband Mike is also a Lieutenant Colonel with the Oklahoma National Guard.
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