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Brig. Gen. Denise Donnell assumes command of the 5,900-member New York Air National Guard. (Image courtesy of the Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul)
Brig. Gen. Denise Donnell assumes command of the 5,900-member New York Air National Guard. (Image courtesy of the Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul)

First female officer leads New York Air National Guard


Mon, Apr 4th 2022 10:20 am

Brig. Gen. Denise Donnell assumes duties after change-of-command ceremony

√ Maj. Gen. Timothy LaBarge retiring after 39 years

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Saturday announced Brig. Gen. Denise Donnell, a Clifton Park resident, is taking over duties as the commander of the 5,900-member New York Air National Guard, the aerial militia arm of the New York National Guard. Donnell follows Maj. Gen. Timothy LaBarge, a Tupper Lake resident, who is retiring after commanding two air wings and leading the New York Air National Guard since 2018. The change of command ceremony took place at New York National Guard headquarters in Latham.

"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. "The National Guard is made up of New York's finest and is always there when crisis calls. I salute Brig. Gen. Donnell on this promotion, and thank Maj. Gen. LaBarge for his 39 years of service."

Adjutant General for the State of New York Maj. Gen. Raymond Shields said, "I've always said our most valuable resource is our people. Without our service members, we simply cannot be successful. This change of command between Maj. Gen. Tim LaBarge and Brig. Gen. Denise Donnell demonstrates our military's ability to smoothly transition leadership from one senior leader to the next. I am so pleased to welcome Brig. Gen. Donnell to her new role leading the New York Air National Guard, while also wishing the very best to Maj. Gen. LaBarge and his wife, Petra, as they begin a new chapter in their lives. Tim, you will be missed. Thank you for leaving the 5,900 members of the New York Air National Guard in capable hands with Denise."

Donnell, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1993 to 2002, is a command pilot with over 4,400 hours of flying time, including 280 hours in combat. She has flown the Navy's P-3 Orion anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft, the Air Force's C-5A Galaxy, LC-130 Hercules "Skibird" and the C-17 Globemaster III, and has commanded at the squadron, group and wing levels. As a naval aviator, Donnell served as an evaluator pilot, mission commander, and quality assurance officer assigned to Patrol Squadron 46, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. Prior to joining the New York Air National Guard, she served as operational test director assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

Donnell is a graduate of Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in foreign service. She is also a graduate of the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, and a Distinguished Graduate with a Master of Science degree in government information leadership from the National Defense University.

LaBarge graduated from St. Lawrence University in Canton in 1983 and received his Air Force Commission from the Officer Training School in 1984. He served eight years in the active Air Force and joined the New York Air National Guard in 1991. He has served in a number of leadership positions, including command of the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia from 2010-12 and command of the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh from 2012-16. LaBarge was promoted to brigadier general in 2016 and promoted to major general in 2018.

Donnell said, "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. Maj. Gen. 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."

LaBarge said, "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. Successfully executing missions like remotely piloted aircraft, space operations, airspace management and air defense of the eastern approaches to continental United States, airlift to the polar regions, strategic airlift, base defense or rescue operations so that others may live, the men and women of our New York Air Guard continue to inspire me. These professionals maintained mission effectiveness while achieving 100% 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."

The New York Air National Guard is the largest state contingent among the nationwide, 101,000-member Air National Guard and is responsible for a unique range of capabilities. The 105th Airlift Wing, based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, flies the C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter, while the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base outside Schenectady flies the LC-130, the largest ski-equipped airplane in the world and one that supplies Antarctic and Greenland research stations.

The 107th Attack Wing at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, and the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, fly the MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft from control stations at both bases. The 174th Attack Wing also trains MQ-9 pilots, sensor operators, and mechanics for the entire Air Force. The 106th Rescue Wing at Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach on Long Island provides search and rescue support to deployed forces and stands ready to back up the Coast Guard. The Eastern Air Defense Sector in Rome is part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and is responsible for the defense of the U.S. east of the Mississippi, overseeing a special air defense district for Washington, D.C.

More than 1,000 men and women from the New York Air National Guard have served on COVID-19 response duties over the past two years, including helping to assemble 39,297,873 test kits, vaccinating 4,586,706 New Yorkers, collecting 1,675,310 tests at the state's 14 testing sites, fielding 278,162 calls at state centers, and distributing 54,899,025 meals across the state.

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