Duty calls for the first woman to command the Delaware National Guard


By Staff Sgt. James Pernol, Delaware National Guard Public Affairs

Change of Command for Delaware National Guard
(Photo: DVIDS)

A changing of the Delaware National Guard took place before more than 400 Airmen, Soldiers and citizens at the Army Aviation Support Facility in New Castle, Del., to witness a change of command ceremony from Maj. Gen. Francis D. Vavala to Brig. Gen. Carol A. Timmons. Timmons was selected by Delaware Gov. John Carney to serve as the state’s next adjutant general and the first woman Major General to lead the Delaware National Guard as well as the first Air Guard commander to serve in the position in more than 30 years at the position. Vavala retired Jan 31 after serving in the top post since February 1999.

Timmons brings with her some strong principles that have helped her throughout her career by never letting a no stand in her way of doing what is right. “Walk the talk, lead by example and never ask an Airmen or Soldier to something you wouldn’t have done and live by good ethics and core values,” said Timmons. “If you always do the right thing and take care of our Airmen and Soldiers and their families everything will work out.”

Carney stated, “Timmons is always teaching others while leading by example and never asking others to do what she will not do herself.” Timmons brings with her a long history of exemplary service in the Air Force and Army as well as on the civilian side.

As Timmons transitions into the new role as leader of the Delaware National Guard, she hopes to continue the vision that Vavala created by working jointly with the Air and Army sides of the Guard. “Working together as a purple synergy Delaware National Guard and providing the state and the nation what they need when called upon,” stated Timmons.

Timmons’ family is no stranger to the life of the military. Her father flew for the Navy during the Korean War and she also had three uncles who flew during World War II. She started her military career after graduating from William Penn High School by enlisting in the Air National Guard as a security specialist and then earning her commission in 1980.

She switched services to join the Army National Guard as a UH-1 Huey helicopter pilot as the Air Force at the time didn’t allow women to become pilots. As with the Air Force women pilots in the Army were not allowed to serve in combat so Timmons transferred to the New Jersey Air Force Reserve to pilot C-141 Starlifters during the first Gulf War.

That was only the start of her flying missions and knocking down roadblocks, Timmons returned to the skies during support missions in Kosovo, Bosnia and Iraq. Vavala stated that Timmons is the right person for the job and ready to lead the Delaware National Guard. “She is uniquely qualified for this position and she is battle tested.” “The right person at the right time to lead us into the future.” Vavala went on to say that he predicts that Timmons will become the best adjutant general ever.

During the Change of Command ceremony Brig. Gen. Carol A Timmons was also promoted to the rank of Major General and will be responsible for all aspects of the Delaware National Guard, overseeing both Air and Army missions where ever they are called to serve.

As Vavala walks into the retirement phase of his exemplary military career that spans 50 years he leaves behind a legacy of putting Airmen and Soldiers of the Delaware National Guard first and always looking out for the best of his guard family. “This is my time to say goodbye and you have my eternal gratitude,” stated Vavala. “You are the wind beneath my wings and you all are my heroes.”

Carney stated, “Gen. Vavala is the most popular person in the State of Delaware, and his service and leadership has never been about him, but all of you, (pointing to the members of the Guard in attendance).”

“I will miss you all, so fair well, it’s been an incredible journey,” said Vavala. “I am Frank Vavala and I’m proud to be a Delaware Guardsmen.”