News Search

Commander of New York Air Guard Maj. Gen. Denise M. Donnell retires after 31 years of military service

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Daniel Hotter
  • 105th Airlift Wing

New York Air National Guard Maj. Gen. Denise M. Donnell, a Clifton Park resident, was honored during a retirement ceremony held at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh on May 23, 2024.

Donnell, who most recently served as the Assistant Adjutant General and Commander of the New York Air National Guard, was recognized for 31 years of military service. As the New York Air National Guard commander, Donnell led 5,800 people assigned to five flying units, the Eastern Air Defense Sector and four geographically separated support units.

“You always offered candid, well-reasoned counsel,” said Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Shields Jr., the 54th Adjutant General for the State of New York. “You ensured that each decision or policy we made was well thought out and actually improved our organization- a key tenant of a strategic leader.”

The ceremony was held at Stewart to honor Donnell’s first Air Guard duty location and her previous role as wing commander of the 105th Airlift Wing.

The event also featured a display of all New York Air National Guard assets, including an MQ-9 Reaper from the 174th Attack Wing, HH-60 Pave Hawk and HC-130J Combat King II from the 106th Rescue Wing, a LC-130H “Skibird” from the 109th Airlift Wing, and a C-17 Globemaster III from the 105th Airlift Wing.

During the ceremony, Donnell was presented with the New York State Conspicuous Service Medal for her exemplary duty performance and service to the Air Guard throughout her career, as well as an American flag to thank her for her continuous dedicated service to the United States Air Force.

“What you do, what you say, what you are, may help others in ways you will never know,” Donnell said, reflecting on her career and providing guidance to the upcoming generations of Airmen.

Donnell graduated from Georgetown University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service and earned her commission through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program.

After nine years as a naval aviator, she joined the 105th Airlift Wing in 2002. She has commanded at the squadron, group, and wing levels.

In 2013, she assumed command of the 109th Maintenance Group and oversaw the maintenance of the nation’s only ski-equipped aircraft in support of the Antarctic research. She also commanded the 13th Air Expeditionary Group, at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

Donnell is a Command Pilot with more than 4,500 flight hours.

“Denise, while I’m sad to see you retire and leave the New York National Guard, I’m also so happy for you, Greg, Allison and Max, and of course your new puppy Watson,” Shields said. “You’ll be able to spend time with those you love and enjoy, but please know that you will be missed.”