The first female Supply Department head on a combatant ship!

March 8, 2014 | By SCNEWSLTR

Lt. Melinda Matheny, SC, USN

Supply Officer, USS Briscoe (DD 977), 1994-1996

Period of Service, 1986-2006

  Lt. Melinda Matheny, the daughter of a retired Supply Corps officer, attended college on a full NROTC scholarship, was commissioned in the Supply Corps, and became the first female Supply Corps officer to be assigned to a combatant ship.  She was born in Norfolk, Va., in May 1964, and moved frequently as is typical of a Navy junior.  Her father, Lt. (later Lt. Cmdr.) Arthur (Art) Matheny, had duty as the integrated logistics support officer in the office of the supervisor of shipbuilding, at Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Miss.  He took his daughter aboard USS Spruance (DD 963), under construction at Ingalls, when she was only 11.  She became the Supply officer of a sister ship just 19 years later.  She became interested in the Navy as a way to help defray the cost of a college education and to see the world.  She applied to the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program during her senior year in high school and was awarded a four-year scholarship to the University of Michigan.  She was graduated with a B.S. degree in mathematics in May 1986 and commissioned an Ensign in the Supply Corps.  She completed the basic qualification course at Navy Supply Corps School (NSCS) Athens, Ga., in December 1986.  [capt
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VIRIN: 140916-N-XZ219-0043
]  Ens. Matheny was ordered to USS Jason (AR 8) at San Diego in January 1987, where she was Food Service officer for the first five months aboard, then Sales and Disbursing officer until detached.  She was promoted to Lt. j.g. in September 1988 and reported in August 1989 to the Navy Regional Finance Center Washington, as Director, Commercial Accounts Department.  Lt. j.g. Matheny was promoted to Lieutenant in September 1990.   Lt. Matheny reported in May 1991 for duty at the Naval Supply Systems Command, as Officer Program Accessions officer in the Office of Supply Corps Personnel.  She moved over to Officer Personnel Requirements and Budgets in March 1992, and remained in that billet until she received historic orders as the first women Supply Corps officer assigned to a combatant ship.  In May 1994, she reported as Supply Officer, USS Briscoe (DD 977).  As the first female Supply Department head on a combatant ship, she emphasized, “I am looking forward to the day when it is no longer news for women to be assigned such positions.”  The ship was deployed to the Red Sea for maritime interdiction operations in support of United Nations sanctions against Iraq shortly after she reported aboard.  Lt. Matheny credits overwhelming support from the command and crew for making her transition extremely easy.  In September 1994, she was still the only female aboard Briscoe, based at Norfolk.  Art Matheny, who retired in 1981 after 27 years of active duty, approves of his daughter following in his Supply Corps footsteps.  “I am extremely proud of her.  She is an extremely capable lady.”  He recalls that she was an honor student throughout high school, despite the fact that the family moved to the Washington area in the summer between her junior and senior years.  She finished 10th in her high school graduation class of 350.  She also excelled academically at NSCS Athens.  After retiring, she now works at the Naval Sea Systems Command.  

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