Colonel Shari Bennett Makes History As First Black Woman Commander of the Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center


July 19, 2021

She’s taking command!

Colonel Shari Bennett is making history as the first Black woman commander of the Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, WQAD reports.


Bennett is a 23-year army veteran who holds a master’s in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College. This week, the Rock Island Arsenal appointed Bennett as the 51st commanding officer of the joint manufacturing technology center, making her the first woman and first Black woman to hold the position.

“It’s truly a great day to be a soldier. We’ve had females at every echelon, commanding at every level, and it’s amazing that we’re still having firsts…I have so many different experiences, and I plan to bring all of those experiences to bear as the new commander of the JMTC,” Bennett said. 

Bennett will be succeeding Colonel Jimmy Hendrix III, who held the position for the past two years and is well respected for his contributions. 


“I’m walking into some huge shoes. Colonel Hendrix was a phenomenal leader,” Bennett said.

Both Hendrix and Major General Darren Werner congratulated Bennett on the historic accomplishment and showed their support.

“The team already loves you, Shari; you’re going to do a fantastic job,” Colonel Hendrix said.


“Colonel Shari Bennett is certainly one of the best, and we welcome her and her family,” Werner added.

Bennett credits her husband and three children with making her job in the military and her move to the Quad Cities a reality, saying that she wouldn’t be able to do it without them. 

“Military families are so resilient. Military children are so resilient, and they pack up, and they move, they leave their friends, they go to new schools. We are all truly blessed when we have our families behind us that allow us to do the things that we do and who support us as we continue our military career,” Bennett said.


As she prepares for her new role, she understands the significance of the moment, paying homage to all the women in the military who have come before her.

“I stand on the shoulders of giants, of women who have led at every echelon and who have proven that women are not just capable, but women are critical to the military these days,” she said.

Congratulations, Colonel Bennett! Because of you, we can! 


Photo Courtesy of 7th Infantry Division

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