Colonel Marcelyn Atwood, USAF (Ret) – Panel Moderator


Colonel Atwood is the daughter of a retired Oregon National Guard pilot and a retired educator. She holds two bachelor’s degrees (Music Education and Computer Information Management) and two master’s degrees (National Security and Strategic Studies and HR Management and Development). She was also a 1999 National Security Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In 2015, she was named a University of Oregon Distinguished Alumna.

Colonel Atwood joined the Air Force after teaching music at Marist High School in Eugene, Oregon. She qualified as a Navigator in 1980 and, for the next ten years, reported to several units as their first female officer aviator. She achieved Master Navigator status with over 3100 career flying hours in multiple aircraft. She was one of ten officers who created the current U.S. Strategic Command, overseeing the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. She also revised WWII-era procedures to establish a new, scientifically based method to survive a chemical attack on airfields.

Colonel Atwood’s two aviation commands included leading a Navy training squadron from 1997 to 1998 as its first female and first Air Force “Skipper.” Later, she became the first woman to command the Air Combat Command’s largest flying operations group from 2002 to 2004. She deployed to combat in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, commanding an expeditionary air group of 750 personnel flying 1800 combat hours during 230 reconnaissance and intelligence combat missions over Iraq. In her final Air Force job as the Vice Director, Manpower and Personnel on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon from 2004 to 2005, she oversaw the assignment of combat forces for the war effort and supported multiple Department of Defense personnel, organizational, and manpower changes.

Following her 25-year Air Force career, Colonel Atwood worked as a business manager of a law firm, a consultant and analyst in the defense industry, and now serves as the Senior Advisor on the Air Force Memorial for the Department of the Air Force. She is a certified Program Management Professional, assists with archiving women military aviators’ private collections for Texas Woman’s University Library, and continues to play her French horn in community bands.  She is married to Neal Puckett, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel, attorney, mediator, and Ducati motorcycle enthusiast.


Photo by: The Official National WASP WWII Museum’s Archives
Photo by: Women Military Aviators

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