Commander Michel Falzone, first female captain of the USS Fort Worth, was honored April 10 at the USS Fort Worth Support Committee’s Women in Leadership event.
Being from a military family, born in North Carolina, Commander Falzone graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science in biology. She was commissioned in the United States Navy in 1999 and became a qualified nuclear engineer. Besides several commendations of merit for service, she was identified as the Navy’s 2002 Nuclear Engineer of the Year.
Mayor Betsy Price and Congresswoman Kay Granger attended the event, along with a crowd of 100 who were present to acknowledge this milestone in naval leadership. USS Fort Worth Support Committee Executive Director Kristen Harford organized and promoted the occasion.
Dr. Nancy Jones, principal officer of the North Texas Community Foundation, moderated the panel of three women leaders – Falzone, Granger and Price. Each woman explained how they entered public service and their experience as a woman, competing in a world of aggressive leaders.
It was reported that all the ships in the U.S. Navy named after a city have citizen public support committees. However, the USS Fort Worth Support Committee has become known as the most active and effective of these naval ship committees.
Today’s U.S. Navy has about 325,000 personnel, one sixth of which are female. The first female Navy combat ship captain was CDR Maureen Farren in 1998.
Granger’s leadership role as chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee of the U.S. Congress enabled her to accomplish honoring Fort Worth, the 16th largest city in the United States, by naming a newly modern combat Navy ship after our city.
Fort Worth’s own Gordon R. England, a TCU graduate with a master’s degree in engineering, served as the 25th U.S. deputy secretary of defense under Presidents Bush and Obama. He played a key role in the development of the USS Fort Worth, working with Granger and was present with us at the ship’s 2010 christening in Marinette, Wis., and her commissioning in Galveston.
The USS Fort Worth is a freedom-class littoral combat ship of the United States Navy, built by Lockheed-Martin. Currently, the USS Fort Worth is the fastest combat Navy ship, capable of a 40-knot speed (46 mph). She’s already had extensive assignments in the Asia-Pacific region and is slated for missions around the Korean peninsula. Her home depot is San Diego.