University of Hawaiʻi alumna Tammy Duckworth has become the first sitting U.S. senator to give birth while in office. Senator Duckworth announced in a Facebook post that Maile Pearl was born April 9, 2018.
“Bryan, Abigail and I couldn’t be happier to welcome little Maile Pearl as the newest addition to our family and we’re deeply honored that our good friend Senator Akaka was able to bless her name for us—his help in naming both of our daughters means he will always be with us,” Duckworth said in her post. Former U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka died April 6 at 93. Duckworth is married to Bryan Bowlsbey. Their daughter Abigail was born in 2014.
Duckworth graduated from UH Mānoa in 1989 with a bachelor of arts in political science, and she earned a master of arts in international affairs from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award from UH in 2011.
Ladda Tammy Duckworth was born in Bangkok, Thailand on March 12, 1968. Her family moved to Hawaiʻi when she was a teenager and she graduated from McKinley High School in 1985.
Duckworth served in the country’s Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring in 2014 as a lieutenant colonel. In 2004 she deployed to Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot with the Illinois Army National Guard. She was among the first women to fly combat missions for the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom. On November 12, 2004 her chopper was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Duckworth lost both her legs and partial use of her right arm. Following her recovery Duckworth became an activist for better medical care for wounded veterans and their families.
In 2009, then President Barack Obama appointed Duckworth as assistant secretary for public and governmental affairs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2012 she became the first disabled woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives representing Illinois and was elected to the Senate in 2016.
Duckworth has been awarded numerous military and civilian honors including the Purple Heart, the Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award and American Veterans Silver Helmet. She was named Disabled Veteran of the Year by Disabled American Veterans and received the Colin Powell Public Service Award from George Washington University.