Cadoria, Sherian Grace 1940–
Sherian Grace Cadoria 1940–
Other women have become generals in the military through the nursing corps, but Sherian Grace Cadoria was the first to achieve that rank through the military police, a traditionally male route. This achievement was a struggle and a challenge throughout Cadoria’s twenty-nine years in the United States Army. To other women aspiring to a military career, Cadoria stated in Brian banker’s, I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America, “A woman today has to do more than her male counterpart. Come in knowing that you’re going to have to give two hundred percent effort to get one hundred percent credit. And most of the time you will not get one hundred percent credit.”
In 1985 Cadoria was not the only one who was proud when her mother, Bernice Cadoria, and General Robert Elton pinned her new rank of brigadier general on her uniform. According to the editors in African American Voices of Triumph: Perseverance, her mother commented, when first told of Cadoria’s promotion, “We’re going to be a general!” Her mother encouraged her throughout her career, especially when Cadoria came back from almost three years in Vietnam, in 1969, intending to leave the Army and become a nun. The hostile environment of Vietnam and her work in the Women’s Army Corps had taken its toll, but her mother reminded her of her responsibility to all blacks. Cadoria had just received the rank of major.
Born in 1940 in Marksville, Louisiana, Cadoria learned responsibility and integrity early in life. As a girl she lugged hundred-pound bags of cotton. She walked five miles to school and back with her brother and sister instead of taking the bus, because blacks did not do well on the white society’s public transportation. Once Cadoria’s mother made the three siblings walk five miles back to return the penny too much that they were given in change at a store. Cadoria would never forget that lesson. She told Brian Lanker, in I Dream a World, “I didn’t have problems in the military with discipline because my mom really was a first sergeant.” Her mother was also someone with character and strong moral values.
This training at home was what allowed Cadoria, during her junior year at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to withstand the four-week WAC training program at Fort McClellan, Alabama; to serve later in Vietnam; and to hold key assignments with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Law Enforcement Division, and the Criminal Investigation Command. Before the Women’s Army Corps was dissolved in 1978, Cadoria attended the Army’s Command and General Staff College-she was the first black woman to do so-and the University of Oklahoma. She received a B.S. in business education and an M.A. in human relations. These degrees, along with advance training at the Army’s War College-where she was again the first black woman to attend-and the National Defense University, helped her excel as an executive officer.
Bom Sherran Grace Cadoria, January 26, 1940, in Marksville, LA, daughter of Bern ice Cadoria. Education: Southern university, B.S., 1961; A.U.S. Command & General Staff College, Diploma, 1971; University of Oklahoma, M.A., 1974; A.U.S. War College, Diploma, 1979; National Defense University, Institute of Higher Defense Studies, 1985.
Instructor/human relations officer, Women’s Army Corps School & Center, 1971-73; executive officer/personnel officer, Women’s Army Corps Branch, U.S. Army Military Personnel Center, 1973-75; personnel staff officer, Law Enforcement Division Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel Headquarters, Department of the Army, 1975-76; battalion commander, Military Police Student Battalion, 1977-78; division chief, Physical Security Division, U.S. Army Europe & 7th Army, 1979-82; brigade commander, 1st Region Criminal investigation Command, 1982-84; author, “Women in the Army: An Integral Part of America’s Defense,” Federal Women’s Program, Ft. Meade, MD, 1984; chief, Office of Army Law Enforcement, Department of the Army, 1984-85; director of manpower & personnel (Brigadier General), Pentagon Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1985-87; Deputy Commanding General and Director, Mobilization and Operations, United States Total Army Personnel Command, 1987-1990; president, Cadoria Speaker & Consultancy Service, Pineville, LA, 1990–; member, Compensation Committee, CLECO, Louisiana, 1993–.
Awards: George Olmstead Scholarship, Freedom’s Foundation, Valley Forge, PA, 1972; Social Aide to the President of the United States, 1975-76; Distinguished Alumni Award, Southern University, 1984; A.U.S. Brig-adier General; Legion of Merit; three Bronze Stars; two Meritorious Service Medals; Air Medal; four Army Commendation Medals.
Member: International Association of Police; Association of the United States Army; International Association of Crime Practitioners.
Addresses: Home-322 Azalea Lane, Pineville, LA 71360.
Cadoria’s success required more than home-training and education, however. According to the editors of Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, “Throughout the turbulent 1960s, while the United States waged war at home and abroad, Sherian Cadoria fought a personal battle that would eventually take her to the top.” David Dent, in an article saluting black women soldiers for Essence, quoted Cadoria as saying, “When I started in the Army in 1961, there were jobs a Black, by unwritten code, could not do. I can never forget that the coveted position of Platoon Leader in the Women’s Officers Training Detachment was denied me because a Black could not carry out all the duties the job entailed. Specifically, in Anniston, Alabama, a Black could not take the troops off the installation because of Jim Crow laws.” During 1962 and 1963, Cadoria had to endure Ku Klux Klan members, often in robes and hoods, standing at the gates of Fort McClellan. In 1963, the year she made first lieutenant and became a platoon officer, she was refused food, even at the back door, of a restaurant. Four years later, Cadoria was told she could not withstand the travel or carry the heavy luggage required for a protocol job in Vietnam. She told her commanding officer, according to Merrill McLoughlin in U. S. News & World Report, “Nobody said I couldn’t carry those hundred-pound bags of cotton when I was just a little child.”
Cadoria was determined to use her training. “Practically everywhere I go,” stated Cadoria in I Dream a World, “I have more than one job ... Practically every job that I’ve gone into was a first…. I’ve gotten more pressure from being female in a man’s world than from being black. I was always a role model. I had responsibility not just for black women but for black men, too.” Cadoria’s firsts, other than those mentioned above, included being the first woman to command a male battalion and, in 1985 in Washington, D.C., being the first black woman director of manpower and personnel for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the latter position Cadoria was responsible for the placement of personnel in all branches of the military and the reserve components.
Cadoria’s last assignment, in 1987, was as Deputy Commanding General and Director for Mobilization and Operations for the United States Total Army Personnel Command in Alexandria, Virginia. David Dent wrote in Essence, “Simply put, if a world war were to erupt, Cadoria would be responsible for providing replacements to the overseas commanders on the battlefields.”
The many commendations Cadoria received testify to how well she served her country. She earned the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Stars, two Meritorious service Medals, the Air Medal, and four Army Commendation Medals. After Cadoria retired from the military in 1990, at age fifty, she started her own business, Cadoria Speaker & Consultancy Service. She resides in Pinev-ille, Louisiana, where she also serves on the Compensation Committee for CLECO, an electrical company in central Louisiana. She has never married.
African American Voices of Triumph: Perseverance, the editors, Time-Life Books, 1990, pp. 172-73.
Lanker, Brian, I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America, Stewart Tabori & Chang, 1989.
Ebony, December 1985, p. 140.
Essence, April 1990, p. 41.
National Geographic, August 1989, p. 215.
U.S. News & World Report, February 13, 1989, p. 54.
CLECO website, 17 January 1997, http://www.cleco.com/clecoweb/21e6.htm (January 1997).
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