Col. Denise Donnell takes command of 105th Airlift Wing on Sunday, August 6
Media Advisory - RSVP required
STEWART AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, NEWBURGH,, NY (08/03/2017) (readMedia)-- New York Air National Guard Col. Denise Donnell will take command of the 105th Airlift Wing from Col. Howard Wagner during a ceremony here on Sunday, August 6.
Donnell, a Clifton Park resident and a command pilot with more than 3,800 hours of flying time in seven different types of aircraft who has been serving as the wing vice commander, will be the first woman to command one of the New York Air National Guard's five flying wings.
Wagner, who has led the wing since 2016, is retiring after a 34-year military career.
"Col. Donnell is a highly qualified officer with the experience and training to lead the 1,300 men and women of the 105th Airlift Wing, " said Major General Anthony German, the Adjutant General of New York and commander of the New York Air National Guard. "I am proud of her past accomplishments and look forward to seeing where she will lead the 105th in the future."
WHO: Col. Denis Donnell, the incoming commander; Col. Howard Wagner, the outgoing commander, Major General Anthony German, the Adjutant General of New York and the Commander of the New York National Guard, and the Airmen of the 105th Airlift Wing.
WHAT: A formal change of commander ceremony. German will preside over a ceremony in which the wing's colors will be transferred from Wagner to Donnell signifying the change of responsibility for the wing.
WHEN: 2 p.m., Sunday, August 6, 2017
WHERE: Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh, N.Y.
The press will be able to obtain still and video imagery of the change of command ceremony and the wing's Airmen in formation. Interviews with the incoming and outgoing commanders as well as Major General Anthony German, the Adjutant General, can be arranged.
Members of the media who wish to cover this event at this secure military facility must contact Master Sgt. Sara Pastorello no later than Friday, August 4, at 1 pm by calling 845-563-2075 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Col. Denise Donnell
Donnell served in the United States Navy from 1993 until 2002 when she joined the New York Air National Guard. During her years in the Navy she piloted the P-3 Orion anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft. She served as an evaluator pilot, a mission commander, a quality assurance officer and eventually as operational test director for Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
Donnell joined the 105th Airlift Wing in 2002 and learned to fly the C-5 Galaxy transport which the wing operated until 2010. From 2005 to 2010 she served as the commander of the 105th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
In 2010 she assumed command of the 105th Maintenance Squadron. She led the unit through a conversion from the C-5 to C-17 aircraft and simultaneously qualified as a C-17 pilot.
In 2013 she was selected to command the 109th Maintenance Group at Stratton Air National Guard Base. The wing flies the LC-130 ski-equipped C-130 transport aircraft as well as conventional C-130s. Donnell learned to fly the C-130 while also commanding the maintenance unit.
In 2016 she was reassigned to the 105th Airlift Wing as Vice Commander to Wagner.
Donnell holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Georgetown University and is also a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College.
Her awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Combat Readiness Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.
She and her husband Greg Szczesny have two children.
Col. Howard Wagner
Col. Howard Wagner joined the U.S. Air Force in 1982 after graduating from Tufts University and receiving his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He earned his pilot wings in 1984 and initially flew the T-37 training aircraft as an instructor pilot.
He was then assigned to fly the RF-4C reconnaissance jet. He flew 26 combat missions in the aircraft during Operation Desert Storm, the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
In 1994, Wagner transitioned to flying the C-5A Galaxy and joined the 105th Airlift Wing as a pilot. Since joining the 105th, Wagner has served as commander of the 105th Operational Support Flight, the 137th Airlift Squadron, and the 105th Maintenance Group. He has served as wing vice commander since 2014 and also served as acting director of staff for the New York Air National Guard for three months.
He transitioned to flying the C-17 in 2011.
Wagner has served full-time as a Guard Airman since 2005, but prior to that flew the Boeing 727, 757 and 767 for United Airlines. He will be returning to his civilian job.
Wagner holds a bachelor of science from Tufts University as well as a law degree from the University of Connecticut, and is a graduate of the Air Force Squadron Officers School, the Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College.
His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal from the Government of Kuwait and the Air Force Overseas Service Medal.
He and his wife Vanita live in Redding, Connecticut. They have three children: Rachel Wagner, Neil Menon, and Nikhil Menon who is married to Kathryn Lewis.
The New York Air National Guard and the 105th Airlift Wing
The 105th Airlift Wing operates the C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlift cargo plane from Stewart Air National Guard Base. The wing's Airmen regularly fly missions providing support to U.S. forces worldwide. Wing members also deploy as members of Air Expeditionary Wings into operational areas throughout the world.
As members of the New York Air National Guard, Airmen of the 105th Airlift Wing respond to state emergencies when called upon by the Governor of New York.
The New York Air National Guard, with almost 6,000 members, is the largest Air National Guard in the country.
Along with the 105th Airlift Wing the New York Air National Guard has four other flying wings: the 107th Attack Wing at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, and the 106th Rescue Wing at Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach. The New York Air National Guard also includes the Eastern Air Defense Sector whose 224th Air Defense Group is responsible for conducting the air defense of the United States east of the Mississippi and the Washington D. C. area.
The New York Air National Guard flies the LC-130 "Skibird" aircraft which can land on ice and snow, the HC-130 search and rescue aircraft, the HH-60 Pavehawk rescue helicopter, the C-17 strategic transport and the MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft.