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Four-star general, a 1981 graduate, honored during Military Appreciation game

During a weekend that honors American veterans, The Ohio State University welcomed home one of the university’s most decorated alumni.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Maryanne Miller, a Hilliard native, is the only female four-star general in the U.S. Department of Defense. Miller was honored during the pregame ceremonies when the football team hosted Maryland and joined the Ohio State Air Force ROTC Wall of Honor in a ceremony Saturday morning.

Miller, a 1981 graduate, spoke to Ohio State News about her time at Ohio State, leadership lessons she learned at the university and how she’s inspired by a future generation of Air Force leaders. She spent time touring the campus and meeting with current cadets.

Miller said the changes to the resources in leadership training, facilities and equipment offered to current cadets is impressive. She said the change in the ROTC program from the early 80s to now was remarkable.

“It’s been amazing. You know, just to look at my life and my journey and then look into [the cadets’] eyes and go, ‘Man, they've got their whole life ahead of them,’” she said. “I’m excited for them. I’m so excited for them.

“To come back and see, it’s been 40 years, to come back and just see the progression that has been made. It’s fantastic.”

In addition to her service in the ROTC program, Miller was a two-year member of the Buckeye softball team. She helped the team make their first postseason appearance in program history at the 1978 Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Regional and return the following season. Miller said the experience helped her become a better leader.

“It really does shape you, when you understand the world is a team, instead of an individual. It shapes everything you do, it shapes how you approach something and shapes the decisions you make,” Miller said. “Being a part of the softball team, we were a very focused group of athletes. We had a charge to do and we did it. It was very focused on the game, what we did and just beating the opponent.”

Miller said he ROTC experience is about team building, about becoming a great leader and taking the Air Force in the right direction – a role she holds now as the commander of the Air Mobility Command. The command provides mobility support to the U.S. armed forces around the globe as well as humanitarian support at home and around the world.

“So that foundation that this building (Converse Hall) sets, that those colonels and captains and majors set for these airmen, is the first real touch of what the Air Force is,” she said. “For us to get that right will carry them a long way. They will remember that foundation for the rest of their career.”

Miller said it wasn’t only the cadets who impressed her. She had a chance to visit the new softball fields that serve as the home to current Buckeye softball players. She even took a few swings in the batter’s box and received some pointers from the team.

“As I whiffed at the ball, I said, ‘Teach me, teach me what I’m doing here, show me what I’m doing wrong,’” Miller said. “And a player grabbed the bat and she was showing me how to do it. It was just awesome.”

Miller said she is looking forward to the growth of the students she met this weekend.

“It’s a precious journey and I’m going to be tracking some of these young lieutenants and making sure that they have what they need to be successful.”

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