NORTH TOWANDA TOWNSHIP - In a ceremony on Saturday, Towanda High School graduate Leslie A. Purser officially became one of fewer than 10 female major generals in the U.S. Army Reserve.

The 40 major generals in the U.S. Army Reserve, who are two-star generals, are ranked equally to each other, Purser said in an interview.

The only officer who currently holds a higher rank in the U.S. Army Reserve than the major generals is Lieutenant General Jack C. Stultz, who is chief of the U.S. Army Reserve. Stultz, who is a three-star general, reports to General Raymond T. Odierno, who is chief of staff of the U.S. Army, Purser said.

Stultz conducted Purser's promotion ceremony, which took place Saturday in SS Peter and Paul Cemetery in North Towanda Township. The cemetery is where Purser's father, Charles Miller, who was a sergeant first class in the Army, is buried, and where one of Purser's brothers, Jeffrey C. Miller, is also buried.

In an interview, Stultz said people from the Towanda area should be proud of Purser.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Stultz said that Purser was being promoted for her achievements and also because of her potential for even further advancement in the military in the future.

In accepting her promotion, Purser said she was very honored that Stultz had taken the time away from his command of 205,000 soldiers to come to the ceremony.

Purser said her father had been an inspiration to her and had taught her the importance of self-reliance. She also said there were teachers and others at the ceremony who had guided her when she was a student in Towanda.

Purser talked about the meaning of success, saying that for her, success is not a rank or a position that a person holds, but that success is "making a difference, making the world a bit better for the future."

Purser also thanked her family for the sacrifices it has made for her.

Purser's two children, Jennifer and Justin, are also Army officers, and will be deployed to Afghanistan in August.

Major General Purser said that the "mother side" of her is scared about their deployment, but that the "soldier side" of her is very proud of them.

"I could not be prouder," she said.

Purser, who has served in the military for 31 years, graduated from Towanda High School in 1975, then from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1980. In 2004, she earned a master's degree in strategic studies from the Army War College, Carlisle, Pa. She is also a graduate of the Military Intelligence Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff School.

She currently serves in the Pentagon, as Director of Intelligence, Plans and Policy, for the Department of the Army. While in the military, she has served, among other places, in Baghdad, Iraq.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.