APRIL 7, 2016, LINCOLN, Neb. – Brig. Gen. Wendy K. Johnson on Sunday became the first woman in the history of the Nebraska Air National Guard to pin on the rank of general officer during a promotion ceremony at the Nebraska National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters.
Johnson, of Elba, Nebraska, will assume duties as the Nebraska National Guard director of the Joint Staff after serving as the Joint Staff chief of staff since 2014
A standing-room only crowd of hundreds of family, friends and Nebraska National Guard Soldiers and Airmen joined Maj. Gen. Daryl L. Bohac, Nebraska National Guard adjutant general, in celebrating Johnson’s past accomplishments and the new opportunities and challenges that await.
“Wendy has established herself as a subject-matter expert in every assignment she has held … and someone I trust implicitly to put the organization first, and who I have complete confidence in when it comes to leading this great organization,” Bohac said.
Johnson’s career began in the Nebraska Air National Guard as an enlisted administrative clerk with the 155th Combat Support Squadron in Lincoln in 1984. Within four years, after earning the support of her leader who saw potential and talent in the young Airman, Johnson was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Johnson’s subsequent assignments ranged from equal opportunity officer, to multiple command leadership positions at the flight, squadron and group-level including overseas deployments.
For four months between 2007 and 2008, Johnson served as the deputy Air Reserve Component advisor for the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
During Johnson’s remarks following the promotion ceremony, she thanked and acknowledged her many mentors. Johnson said she learned many life and career lessons from that group of leaders including the value of defending accomplishments and performance over individual attributes; supporting the decisions of those you lead; and the power that instilling confidence can have in creating high performing leaders and teams
While she recognizes her place in Nebraska Air National Guard history, the general said, “retired-Chief Master Sgt. Jody Urbauer was one of the first women to enlist in the Nebraska Air National Guard in 1972 … there is a core group of female enlisted Nebraska National Guard Soldiers and Airmen I have had the privilege to serve with … but suffice it to say, the enlisted corps of women are the real pioneers of female service in the Nebraska Air National Guard.”
In her closing remarks, Johnson paid tribute to the past and laid out her vision for the future.
“The leadership in Nebraska has created a climate of inclusion and valued service from all members of the team,” Johnson said. “They have looked beyond gender to achievements and performance. Early-serving females built a foundation for future generations and I had the good fortune of mentors who built on that foundation, in the form of encouragement, mentorship and removing barriers. Going forward, I look forward to encouraging, mentoring and removing barriers, and continuing to share my passion for service with others, and shaping the minds and ideas of the next generation of National Guardsmen and women.”