Submitted by Christine B. Knighton


Colonel Christine B. Knighton (“Nickey”) currently serves as the Director, Training Development for the Soldier Support Institute at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.  Her previous assignment was in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Military Personnel Policy as Assistant Director of Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management.   She advised Senior Department of Defense Leadership on officer plans and policy for the 250,000 Officers assigned to Army, Navy, Marine Corps and the Air Force. 


Colonel Knighton is a native of Benevolence and Cuthbert, Georgia.  Upon graduation from Randolph County Comprehensive High School in 1975, she attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and graduated in 1979 as a Distinguished Military Graduate with a Regular Army Appointment. She was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps.


Upon completion of the Quartermaster Officer Basic Course, Colonel Knighton attended flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama graduating in August 1980.  She was branch transferred to the Transportation Officer’s Corps and completed the Aviation Maintenance Officers’ Course and the UH-1H (Huey) Helicopter Test Pilot Course at Fort Eustis, Virginia in 1981.


In 1980, she became only the second Black woman in the United States to complete Aviation Training within the Department of Defense and the first woman from the State of Georgia.  Then President Jimmy Carter sent her a letter of congratulations.  Currently, Colonel Knighton is the Senior Black Female Aviator on Active Duty in the Department of Defense.  She is one of the first women to serve as Combat Arms Officers in the United States Army and was the first woman to command a tactical combat arms battalion. 


Upon completion of initial Aviation Training, Colonel Knighton was subsequently assigned to V Corps in West Germany where she served a four-year tour in Hanua, Frankfurt and Wiesbaden.  Her assignments included Flight Section Leader – 205th Transportation Battalion (AVIM), Flight Section Leader, Pilot-In-Command, Maintenance Test Pilot and Aviation Maintenance (AVUM) Platoon Leader – 62d Aviation Company (Corps GS) and S-4 (Logistics Officer) of the 11th Aviation Battalion (Combat).


Assigned to Fort Hood, Texas in 1985, Colonel Knighton served in the 1st Cavalry Division’s Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Company (AVIM) as Armament and Technical Supply Platoon Leader, Production Control Officer and Company Executive Officer.  In 1988, she assumed command of Delta Company, 227th Aviation Regiment – 1st Cavalry’s Combat Aviation Company (General Support).


Colonel Knighton served a tour at Camp Stanley in Uijeongbu, South Korea - 2d Infantry Division as the Aviation Brigade S-4 Officer.  Assigned to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1990, Colonel Knighton serves as the Aviation Logistician of the Aviation Requirements for the Combat Structure for the Army (ARCSA-V) Study Group prior to attending Command and General Staff College.  She deployed to Operation Desert Storm with the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) to assessment Aviation Units positioned in Saudi, Kuwait and Iraq.


Assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky in July 1992 upon the completion of Staff College, Colonel Knighton serves as the S-3 (Operations Officer), 8th Aviation Battalion (AVIM), 101st Airborne Division. In June 1993, she assumed command of Hotel Company, 159th Aviation Regiment (AVIM). Under here command, the company was deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia from August 1993 thru January 1994 in support of combat operations - United Nations Operation Continue Hope.


Colonel Knighton spent two years at the Army Personnel Command as the assignments officer for Aviation Majors and Lieutenant Colonels.  Upon completion of this assignment, Colonel Knighton assumed command of 2d Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, a Blackhawk Helicopter Battalion in 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.  On 3 November 1996, then Lieutenant Colonel Knighton became the first woman in the history of the United States Army to command a tactical combat arms battalion.  She deployed the battalion to Tulza, Bosnia-Herzegovina to conduct aviation operations in support of 1st Cavalry Division and NATO.  She relinquished command in November 1998 and in March 1999, 2d Battalion, 227th Aviation was selected as the Army’s Aviation Unit of the Year. 


Colonel Knighton’s military education includes the Aviation Officer Advanced Course, UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter Qualification Course, Combined Arms Staff and Services School, Command and General Staff College, Army and Aviation Pre-Command Courses and National War College.  She holds a Master of Science Degree in National Security and Strategy from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.   She is currently pursing advanced studies in Human Behavior and Conflict Management at Columbia College in South Carolina.


Her awards and decorations include award of the Defense Superior Service Medal, six Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, an Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, two award of Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, the Army’s Senior Aviator Badge and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Staff Badge.  Colonel Knighton also holds the Order of Saint Michael for outstanding contributions to Army Aviation.


Colonel Knighton was nationally recognized by Glamour Magazine in 1989 as one of the Top 10 Outstanding Working Women in the United States.  She appeared on the cover of USA Today and numerous other national publications and television talk shows as a result of this selection.  She is the founder of a public service non-profit organization active in Southwest Georgia.  Since 1990, S.H.A.P.E. – Self-Esteem, Harmony, Awareness, Pride and Education, has provided undergraduate educational opportunities to graduating high school seniors for the 14 years since its inception.  Colonel Knighton belongs to Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc and for over 25 years has pledged her commitment to public service on a national and international level.  She is the Vice President of the Bessie Coleman Foundation, an organization committed to sponsoring and promoting careers in Aviation in the military, private and commercial sectors.  Colonel Knighton is also a member of the Tuskegee Airmen Association affiliated with the Columbia, SC Chapter.


Colonel Knighton is married to Lieutenant Colonel Bennie Williams, Jr, of Orangeburg, SC.  LTC Williams is an Army Infantry Officer and Commander of 2/60th Infantry, a Basic Training Battalion at Fort Jackson, SC.  They are the proud parents of an eight-year-old son, Tre’, a second grade student at Lake Carolina Elementary School in Northeast Columbia, SC.


Colonel Knighton’s most cherished and memorable life experience has been the privilege and honor to serve our nation with the best that America has to offer – America’s Sons and Daughters.





posted on 9/28/04