New York Air National Guard

First Female Officer Takes Command of NY Air National Guard

Brig. Gen. Denise Donnell, of Clifton Park, took over the aerial militia arm of the New York National Guard

What to Know

  • Brig. Gen. Denise Donnell on Saturday became the first female officer appointed to command the 5,900-member New York Air National Guard, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office said.
  • Donnell, who served in the Navy from 1993 to 2002, is a command pilot whose more than 4,400 hours of flying time include 280 hours in combat.
  • Donnell graduated from Georgetown University. She also is a graduate of the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base and the National Defense University.

Brig. Gen. Denise Donnell on Saturday became the first female officer appointed to command the 5,900-member New York Air National Guard, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office said.

Donnell, of Clifton Park, took over the aerial militia arm of the New York National Guard from Maj. Gen. Timothy LaBarge during a change of command ceremony at National Guard headquarters.

LaBarge, a Tupper Lake resident who led the Air National Guard since 2018, retired.

“This is a proud day in New York to recognize the achievements and leadership skills of a woman who has risen through the ranks to serve as a model of selflessness for all New Yorkers,” Hochul said.

Donnell, who served in the Navy from 1993 to 2002, is a command pilot whose more than 4,400 hours of flying time include 280 hours in combat.

Donnell graduated from Georgetown University. She also is a graduate of the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base and the National Defense University.

She called her new role “a tremendous honor.”

"It's a tremendous honor to lead the 5,900 men and women of the New York Air National Guard.  From COVID to Kabul, New York Airmen serve our state and nation at home and overseas every day. Major General Timothy LaBarge has set a high standard for our Air Guard and I look forward to building on the accomplishments of the last four years," she said.

Meanwhile, her predecessor said the state's Air National Guard will continue its "trend of excellence" under Donnell's leadership.

"As the largest Air National Guard across the 54 states and territories, the New York Air National Guard brings tremendous capability to bear in our federal or state missions... These professionals maintained mission effectiveness while achieving 100 percent of their end strength in the face of a global pandemic, and for that I am both impressed and grateful. Under the leadership of Brig. Gen. Donnell, our Airmen will continue that trend of excellence and success here at home and around the world," LaBarge said.

The New York Air National Guard is the largest state contingent among the nationwide, 101,000-member Air National Guard. 

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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