MILITARY & VETERANS AFFAIRS
(18 November, 2008)
NJANG Receives First Woman Commander
Brig. Gen. Maria Falca-Dodson (right) accepts the New Jersey Air National Guard colors from Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth (left), The Adjutant General of New Jersey, while State Command Chief Master Sgt. Edward Karol (center) watches during the NJANG Change of Command ceremony on Nov. 15. The ceremony was held at the Joint Training and Training Development Center at Fort Dix. Brig. Gen. Falca-Dodson, who is the first female general officer in New Jersey and the first woman commander of the NJANG, will command the 2,300 Airmen of the New Jersey Air National Guard who serve with the 108th Air Refueling Wing, the 177th Fighter Wing and Joint Force Headquarters-New Jersey (Air Component). Photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Olsen, 177FW/PA.
By Tech. Sgt. Mark Olsen, 177FW/PA
The year of firsts continues.
Here in New Jersey the New Jersey Air National Guard received its first woman commander.
Brig. Gen. Maria Falca-Dodson assumed command of nearly 2,300 Airmen of the New Jersey Air National Guard, which includes the 108th Air Refueling Wing at McGuire Air Force Base, the 177th Fighter Wing at Egg Harbor Township and Joint Force Headquarter-New Jersey (Air Component) at Fort Dix in a Change of Command ceremony at the Joint Training and Training Development Center, located at Fort Dix on Nov. 15.
Outgoing NJANG Commander Brig. Gen. Lawrence S. Thomas III noted that: “This is long overdue, not just for women in general but for Maria herself.”
“It's an honor to be given this responsibility,” said Brig. Gen. Falca-Dodson. “I pledge to lead and support fully and I thank you for your belief in me, guidance and support.”
The General, prior to assuming command, served as the first female Deputy Adjutant General to The Adjutant General of New Jersey, Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth at the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs located in Lawrenceville. She was appointed on March 1, 2002. In 2004, she became the first woman to pin on general's stars in the New Jersey National Guard.
“Make no mistake; she's a Soldier and an Airman first. During her time as a deputy, she didn't always get the glorious jobs. But every issue she took and every project that was handed to her was carried out,” said Maj. Gen. Rieth. “And there were a lot of things that needed to be carried out during that time.”
General Falca-Dodson provided oversight and management to more than 8,300 members of the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard, as well as state operations of the Department during the nearly seven years she served as the Deputy Adjutant General. During that time, the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard mobilized more than 7,000 Soldiers and Airmen in support of Operations' Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom Noble Eagle, Hurricane Katrina and Rita efforts and Operation Jump Start.
She also had direct responsibility for the Army and Air full time operations, Strength, New Jersey National Guard Training Center, Ethics, and the Office of Military Affairs which includes; Public Affairs, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and Government Relations. She was Chair of the Long Range Planning Executive Steering Committee, the Efficiencies and Revenue Steering Committee; the Weapons of Mass Destruction Advisory Committee, is the TAG designee for the Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force and was Co-Chair of the Nursing Shortage Task Force in 2002.
The General attended the College of New Jersey (formerly Trenton State College) and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing in 1975. Seven years later, she earned a Master of Arts in Administration from Central Michigan University.
General Falca-Dodson began her military career in 1980 when she was commissioned as a first lieutenant with the 108th Tactical Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard. In 1993, she received her Chief Nurse Badge serving with the 108th Medical Squadron. Five years later, she assumed Command of the 108th Air Refueling Wing Medical Group. General Falca-Dodson has participated in multiple overseas deployments and was deployed as the Medical Commander, Task Force Fuertos Caminos, Panama, 1993.