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After a military career that included stops in more than 80 countries in 25 years, Lancaster native Melinda Woodhurst recently decided to call it quits.
In November, Woodhurst retired from the U.S. Army, in which she achieved the rank of colonel and most recently served as chief of staff for the Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Va.
The support command handles logistical duties for the Army, such as selecting weaponry and determining where servicemen and women should be placed in the event of base consolidation.
Before that, Woodhurst, 48, served two stints in Germany (eight years total) and one-year tours in both Iraq and Kuwait.
She’s visited 83 countries while in service. As a logistician, her duties included making sure a division from Georgia made it to Kuwait and back safely and without problem. She also issued military equipment and oversaw security assistance offices in various countries.
“It’s not a responsibility you take lightly,” she said.
Woodhurst lists Tanzania, Norway and Turkey as some of the countries she enjoyed visiting the most, while she said Haiti was “not so pleasant.”
Due to health issues, Woodhurst was told about three years ago that she would not be able to travel abroad with the Army any longer.
At that time, she began looking back and realized that she was content with her career. She thought about retirement and the chance to spend more time with her family.
“When it’s time to retire, you feel it,” she said. “It was time. I wanted to get back close to home.”
And that news couldn’t have been better for Woodhurst’s mother, Lancaster resident Acelia Vaughn.
Vaughn said she had always spoke proudly of what her daughter had accomplished in the military, but feared for her safety all the time.
“I am so thrilled, I don’t know what to do,” Vaughn said. “All those years of worrying. I thought I was going to have a heart attack.”
Woodhurst said she believes being in the military was her calling.
“Serving our country is the best thing I have ever done,” she said. “It comes with tremendous sacrifice, but it’s well worth it for the freedom we enjoy every single day.”
Woodhurst officially retired from the military in November, though her last day was in August.
She now lives in Rock Hill with her husband, Woody. They have a son, Andrew, who attends York Technical College.
Since retirement, Woodhurst has been working as a military liaison officer and a spokeswoman for Sands Resorts in Myrtle Beach, where troops come for vacation and debriefing after tours of duty.
Woodhurst, who helps organize those stays, is able to complete much of her work from home.
She said that gives her the chance to do more with her family, work on her new house and become more active with her church.
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at email@example.com or at (803) 283-1152