Press Release

Release Date: March 22, 2023
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Beginning in an era when women were not allowed to perform combat roles, Lt. Elizabeth DeVault (retired), experienced many cultural changes within the U.S. Navy during her 25-year career. A First American and proud Chickasaw, she personifies the Chickasaw warrior spirit.

“I first trained in electronics, repairing radios,” DeVault said. “I didn’t find this fulfilling. In the late 90s, combatant jobs opened to females. I went back to school to become a fire controlman. I liked being on the forefront, being first in the field.”

As a fire controlman, she was in the first generation of women assigned aboard naval combat vessels. She was stationed on the destroyer USS Hopper, one of the first combat naval ships designed with both men and women in mind.

During her career, DeVault had the unique experience of being both an enlisted sailor and a commissioned officer. She attained the enlisted rank of chief petty officer. Due to her training while enlisted, she was selected to become a limited duty officer in the field of ordnance. She was commissioned as an ensign in 2007.

In addition to other ships, DeVault served aboard two prestigious aircraft carriers. These included the now decommissioned USS Enterprise, where she completed her ensign training, and the USS George H.W. Bush where she served as the ship’s gunnery officer.

“I got to drive an aircraft carrier. To lead a combat ship like that from the bridge is an amazing experience,” DeVault said.

Committed to the life of a mariner, DeVault also had academic goals. She recognized education would advance her career, and that she would one day retire from the Navy.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Excelsior University, Albany, New York, followed by a master’s degree in organizational management and leadership. Finally, she earned a doctorate in business administration from Capella University, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Along with her degrees, DeVault garnered many medals and awards during her military career. These include two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals, and five Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals.

“How many people can say they have done the things I have?” DeVault said. “I have had two years of electronic school, followed by a year of advanced electronic training and countless other schools. I have a paid for bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degree. With six deployments, I have seen half the world and countless countries. The amount of things I have gotten to see and do don’t compare to everyday jobs.”

DeVault retired from the Navy in 2017. She enjoyed her time in the Navy. With a desire to continue public service, she secured and currently works in a civilian capacity for the Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC).

With more than 120 civilian-crewed ships providing logistics support to both naval ships at sea and military installations across the globe, her experience and leadership is vital in completing the mission of MSC.

DeVault was selected to give the keynote address for MSC’s 2021 National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month celebration, which took place at Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia. The theme for the celebration was “Grounded in Tradition, Resilient in Spirit.”

She was also invited to speak at the 2019 Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation Conference in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The theme was “Conquer Life’s Opportunities.” DeVault gave a series of presentations on how women have influenced the Navy.

She said her presentation during the conference included the “history of women in the Navy, how they have overcome the challenges faced in a predominantly male environment and how the Navy can benefit Chickasaw women of the future.”