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Sisters make military history

ABC News logo ABC News 9/6/2019

a man wearing a military uniform: Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett and her sister, Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi, pose for a family photo after then Col. Lodi's outgoing Change of Command for the 44th Medical Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C. in July 2018.

Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett and her sister, Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi, pose for a family photo after then Col. Lodi's outgoing Change of Command for the 44th Medical Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C. in July 2018.
© US Army

"Military family" takes on new meaning for a set of sisters who made history as the first to both attain the general's rank in U.S. Army.

Parents and their children, relatives, spouses and even identical siblings have previously risen through various ranks of the U.S. Army together, according to the military service; but this is the first time in 244 years that a pair of sisters -- Maj. Gen. Maria Lodi Barrett and her younger sister Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi -- is pulling rank in tandem.

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On July 12, history was made as Lodi was promoted to the one-star rank of brigadier general, joining her sister, who is a two-star general.

Barrett is the commanding general of NETCOM, while her younger sister serves as the deputy chief of staff for operations at the Office of the Surgeon General.

Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy said the sisters "represent the best America has to offer."

"I can only imagine the pride their family must feel having two distinguished leaders inspiring countless individuals to achieve their full potential based on their own merit," he said. "This is a proud moment for their families and for the Army."

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U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville added that they are "exceptional, proven leaders who’ve distinguished themselves over the course of their careers at various levels of command and during multiple combat tours."

"These officers serve in critical career fields and lead organizations essential to the Army mission," Gen. McConville said.

To celebrate the historic moment of sisters serving together as general officers, Barrett presented Lodi with her one-star rank insignia as a tribute to the history of women serving in the Army.

Although women were not officially accepted into its ranks until the 1901 when the Army Nursing Corps was established, some women served unofficially since the Revolutionary War, according to the U.S. Army Women's Museum.

The sisters grew up outside of Boston and Lodi always wanted to be a soldier, but Barrett considered art school or the foreign service, according to the Army, and said her cyber career with was "almost accidental."

ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

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