Adversity shapes McManus into successful soldier

By: Staff report
Peggy McManus, now a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was a captain and MVP for the softball team at Anson High School in Wadesboro.

WADESBORO — Despite much adversity that Morven native, Peggy McManus, faced and endured early in her personal life, she has become a successful soldier.

McManus, 51, is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S Army. She works for Headquarters Department of the Army in Personnel Policy at the Pentagon.

“My life experiences made me a ‘people person,’” she said. “I’ve learned a lot and want to mentor others to help them get through tough times.”

Peggy graduated in 1986 from Anson High School in Wadesboro, where she was a star in basketball, volleyball and softball. She was a team captain and team MVP in softball.

“I had it rough growing up, as one of nine children raised by a single mother,” McManus said. “Sports saved me.”

After high school, with few job opportunities, she worked for Glenn Manufacturing in Morven, which made bed comforters, and shower curtains.

In 1988, two years after graduating high school and working, she continued playing softball and played for two teams every summer.

Two years after graduating high school a Benedict College scout offered her a full scholarship to play softball. Once enrolled, she played softball, basketball, volleyball and joined the school’s Army ROTC program.

In 1989, while a college sophomore, she lost her mother to cancer.

“This was a great loss because my mother also played the role of a father,” McManus said. “She was my rock.”

In 1992, she received a degree in Criminal Justice from Benedict College and a commission as an Army second lieutenant.

She became the commander of the 460th Replacement Company in Florence, S.C., and also was a correctional officer at Brown Creek Correctional Institution in Polkton from 1993-1996, and a programmer at the facility from 1996 to 1998.

“It was a tough job, but as woman, it was even tougher,” McManus said. “The prison housed rapists, child molesters and murderers.”

After Brown Creek, Peggy became a Probation Parole officer in Wadesboro.

In 2002-2005 she was the Operations officer in the 360th Personnel Group, in Richmond, Va. In 2005-2007 she was assigned to the 108th Division headquarters in Charlotte, where she was the adjutant general servicing more than 3,000 personnel in six states and Puerto Rico.

In 2008-2011 she was assigned to the new 108th Training Division as the senior Human Resource officer, where she provided personnel support and services to more than 9,928 soldiers in 25 states.

In 2007, while assigned to the 108th Training Command, McManus received tragic news: her sister was involved in an auto accident that killed her daughter, Gabrielle. McManus’s son, 15, also was in the car.

Along with her promotions, she moved into positions of increasing responsibility. At Fort Bragg she managed a combined budget of more than $400 million and the training and retention of 25,000 new soldiers, including over 3,000 newly commissioned lieutenants and warrant officers.

In 2013 to 2014 she deployed to Kuwait where she served as the Personnel liaison officer to the Army Reserve Affairs Directorate for Army Central Command. In 2014-2016 she was assigned the assistant chief of staff for Personnel for the 11th Aviation Command at Fort Knox, Ky., which consisted of 4,500 soldiers in 14 states.

In 2014, while at the Fort Know, McManus was inducted into Benedict College Athletic Hall of Fame for softball, basketball and baseball.

“The tough moments of my life were pretty tough, but it prepared me greatly to be stronger and push through to overcome anything,” she said.

McManus graduated in June 2017 from the prestigious Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., which provides graduate level instruction to senior military officers and civilians to prepare them for senior leadership assignments and responsibilities. She also received a master’s degree in Strategic Studies.

“I’ve been through some tough times in my life, and getting through the War College was one of them,” she said. “But if you have the right outlook and think positive you can overcome many challenges.”

McManus said, “It’s been very challenging, but what held me together was my faith in God, and knowing that they [the community, my church family, AME Zion, the Bishop] are all praying for me.”

They check on her, and call her to make sure she’s standing strong, and she’s also added to several prayer lists, McManus said.

McManus would give those going through similar challenges as she has endured the same advice her mother gave.

“It does not matter your address or your zip code, or where you’re from. What matters is what you seek out to do and be in life,” she said. “Keep pushing toward the mark to become whatever it is you want to become.”

She added, “Just know who you are, and to know yourself and your self-worth.”

McManus was selected in May for promotion to the rank of colonel, and will start Aug. 10.

“To me, this is a great accomplishment, and I had no idea that I would be selected because the chances are slim to none,” McManus said. “I was overly excited, and I think that I prepared myself for it by doing all the right things.”

McManus said she actually thought she would retire at lieutenant colonel, and she only took it one rank at a time.

“It’s a good opportunity and most difficult to get that promotion, and because I did receive it, it was awesome,” McManus said.

From this point on, McManus’ goals are to continue to serve in the military and to continue to mentor.

“I think it’s important to mentor young individuals, young females, especially,” she said. “I enjoy doing it; I think it comes with being a minister, also, and you should always reach back and give back to those who are less fortunate.”

McManus said she mentors all the time, even in the military. She gives her number to young individuals, male and female.

“It doesn’t matter who they are,” she said. “I have to reach back like someone did for me.”

One mentor McManus named was fellow Morven native Willie Davis, who made sure she went to school.

He once said to McManus, “You have so much talent. How dare you sit here in Morven, and not do anything.”

McManus said mentoring] is the big thing. The purpose of mentoring and reaching back is to let young people know that it does not matter where they grew up, if they had the best or worst of things, or what clothes they had on your back, she said.

“The main thing is education, and pushing yourself forward to be whatever it is you want to be in life,” she said. “I think I’m strong because I saw my mother struggle, and she always pushed us to do well, in whatever we chose to do.”

The United States Department of Defense contributed to this report.


Peggy McManus, now a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was a captain and MVP for the softball team at Anson High School in Wadesboro. McManus, now a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was a captain and MVP for the softball team at Anson High School in Wadesboro.

Staff report

The United States Department of Defense contributed to this report.

The United States Department of Defense contributed to this report.