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  • Alex Nelson

Alabama's air militia promotes first Black woman to brigadier general rank

The Alabama Air National Guard (AANG), the state's aerial militia, marked another milestone last weekend in its storied history of honoring African-American contributions to the military. On Saturday, Tara D. McKennie was promoted to brigadier general, making her the first woman to hold a the position of general in the AANG and also the first Black woman to hold a general office in organization's 187th Fighter Wing.

Joined onstage by her daughter and Governor Kay Ivey, General McKennie received her pinned insignia at the Montgomery Regional Air National Guard Base before members of her command squadron. She became an enlisted Air Force officer in 1989 and served for six years an an active duty service member.

In addition to being celebrated by Alabama's first elected woman governor, General McKennie's historic moment was also shared by two other trailblazing women in Alabama history; Ms. Armestine Graham and Ms. Jessica Hall, two of the first Black women to enlist in the Alabama Air National Guard.

The Alabama National Guard is also home to the 100th Fighter Squadron, which housed a unit of the Tuskeegee Airmen's Red Tail fighter pilots during World War II.

Governor Ivey also honored General McKennie via Twitter.

“Congratulations Brigadier General Tara McKennie on your promotion! You have truly made history being both the first female and first African American General Officer for the Alabama National Guard. Thank you for your service to sweet home Alabama. Flag of United States #GuardItAL@AlabamaNG.”

In the midst of her accomplishment, McKennie also reflected on the significance of the moment.

“Diversity, inclusion, and equity is huge in our country, and not just because of everything that’s going on in the world right now,” said the general. “This is where we need to be, always including everyone, hearing everyone’s voices, making an opportunity for everyone, so that they can have a seat at the table.”

“My father used to tell me that you either work hard now or you work hard forever,” McKennie said. “I’m a hard worker. I love hard work. I tell young people to work hard, stay focused, and bring everyone up together.”


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