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Ohio Air National Guard Names First Female Brigadier General

ohio_air_national_guard.jpg
Jeremy Lock
/
Wikimedia Commons
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Falcon from the 180th Fighter Wing ANG goes through prefight checks before taxing down the runway for take off on February 12, 2012 in Toledo, Ohio.

The Ohio Air National Guard is celebrating a milestone, naming Col. Rebecca O’Connor as its first female brigadier general. Very few people reach the rank, and it takes congressional approval do so.

“When you’re talking about a pyramid structure of rank, it’s really close up there towards the top,” O’Connor says.

O’Connor will also be the Air Guard’s Chief of Staff, where she’ll oversee nearly 5,000 personnel. 

And, while she says that her achievement shows the progress the Ohio Air National Guard has made towards equality, she acknowledges she’s a bit of a trailblazer.

“Throughout my careers at times, where you go into a position, and I look around the room, and I’m the only woman there," O'Connor says. "But I’ll tell you what, it did not take me long to see more and more women joining the ranks."

O’Connor thinks the same thing will happen with the rank of brigadier general.

“I may be the first, but I am not going to be the last, and there are going to be more and more of them joining that rank,” she says.

She says mentorship and visibility are key to that happening.

“In every stage of my career, I had somebody there looking after me and helping me along the way get to where I am now,” she says, “and I’m hoping that I can return the favor to some of leaders that are up and coming.”

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.