LATHAM, NY (11/16/2017) New York Air National Guard Command Chief Master Sgt. Amy Giaquinto, a Ballston Spa resident, is now serving as the top enlisted leader for the 16,000 men and women of the New York Army and Air National Guard.
Giaquinto is the first Air National Guard noncommissioned officer, and the first women, to hold the position of senior enlisted advisor to the Adjutant General of New York. Since the position was created in the 1970s it has been held by male New York Army National Guard command sergeants major.
Giaquinto was named the Command Chief Master Sgt. for the 5,800-member New York Air National Guard in 2016. Prior to that she served as the top enlisted leader for the 109th Airlift Wing, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia.
Giaquinto took on her new role in October. She will be "dual-hatted" as the overall enlisted leader for the New York National Guard and the enlisted leader for the New York Air National Guard.
Giaquinto is taking over from Command Sgt. Major David Piwowarski, who also lives in Ballston Spa.
Piwowarski was named as New York National Guard and New York Army National Guard Command Sgt. Major in 2016. He will continue to serve as the senior enlisted Soldier in the 10,300- member New York Army National Guard.
He made the change because he wanted to make sure that Giaquinto would have the opportunity to seek promotion to a national level enlisted leadership position, according to Major General Anthony German, the Adjutant General of New York.
Command Sgt. Major Piwowarski did an excellent job in the position and is now competitive for non-commissioned officer slots at higher levels, German explained. He wanted to give an Air Force enlisted leader the same opportunity, he added.
Giaquinto has the skills to go out into the field, learn what Soldiers and Airmen are concerned about, while also communicating on his behalf, German said.
"Amy is the right person at the right time," German added.
Giaquinto kicked off her military career by serving as an Army enlisted Soldiers from 1984 to 1987 at United States Army Europe headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany. That experience will be helpful but she still has much to learn about the New York Army National Guard, Giaquinto said.
"I'm looking forward to getting out and about and learning about the Army, meeting the Soldiers, and hearing their stories," Giaquinto said.
"This is a learning curve for me. However, we have great Army Guard leaders across New York who will be ready and willing to help me," she added.
After leaving the Army in 1987 Giaquinto had a ten year break in service.
In 1997 she joined the 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia, New York, the New York Air Guard unit which specializes in flying in the Antarctic and Arctic.
She served in information management, administration and human resources jobs at the 109th between 1997 and 2011. She also deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
From 2011 to 2013 she served as personnel superintendent at the New York Air National Guard Headquarters in Latham.
In 2013 she was named Command Chief for the 109th Airlift Wing, a position she held until 2016.
"I am pretty excited that I am the first female in this job," Giaquinto said.
"I hope it breeds awareness that just because it has never been held by a female, and it has never been held by an Air Guard member, that doesn't mean that it can't," she added.
Giaquinto thinks her experiences as an Active Duty Soldier, and traditional and full-time Air Guard member will help her relate to New York's Soldiers and Airmen.
"I joined the Air National Guard as a single mom with a full-time civilian job, so I know what it is like to be in the military with young children," she said.
She's also now part of a dual military family-her husband Chief Master Sgt. Mark Giaquinto is a member of the 109th Airlift Wing-with one daughter in college, a son just starting high school, and a married daughter who belongs to the Kentucky Air National Guard.
"I think my situation helps me relate to Soldiers and Airmen and family members too," Giaquinto said.
"I've been the one deployed with the family back home and I've also been the one at home while my husband was deployed," she said.
"I think my life and work experiences help me relate to Soldiers and Airmen," she said. "I hope the Soldiers and Airmen are comfortable talking to me."