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Major General Carol Timmons, Delaware's adjutant general from 2017 to 2019, died Sunday at age 62

Brandon Holveck
Delaware News Journal

Major General Carol A. Timmons, who capped a dignified 42-year military career as the first woman to lead the Delaware National Guard, died Sunday at age 62.

In 2017, Timmons replaced Major General Frank Vavala as adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard, responsible for the mission readiness of all Guard units. She was the first woman and the second Air Guardsman to hold the post. Timmons retired in March 2019.

"General Timmons was a pioneer," Governor John Carney said in a statement. "She was the epitome of a public servant... She was also just a kind, decent person who put others before herself and lived a life of service."

"She was a shining example to every Delaware Guardsman and woman," Delaware Military Museum Executive Director Kennard R. Wiggins Jr. wrote.

Major General Carol Timmons speaks during the Governor's Day Review of Troops at Delaware State University in Dover in 2017.

Timmons was a veteran of seven overseas combat deployments: Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Joint Guard, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve. According to the state, she logged more than 400 combat flight hours.

Timmons received numerous awards and honors throughout her career, including the Legion of Merit, awarded for "exceptionally meritorious conduct and outstanding service," and a Bronze Star, the fourth-highest ranking award a service member can receive for their conduct in armed conflict.

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She is a member of the Hall of Fame of Delaware Woman and the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame.

In a statement, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester praised Timmons for pursuing and eventually realizing her dream of flying combat missions despite deterring "discriminatory regulations."

"That determination to serve translated into truly remarkable leadership," Blunt Rochester said.

Brigadier General Carol A. Timmons, left, leads Col. Don R. Bevis and Col. Robert E. Culcasi to the stage for the 166th Airlift Wing Change of Command ceremony at the Delaware National Guard base in New Castle.

Major General Michael Berry, who assumed command from Timmons last year as the Guard's current Adjutant General, called Timmons a "true American hero" and applauded her willingness to sacrifice for others.

"She was a true warrior who understood the importance that each service member plays in the defense of our Nation and our way of life," Berry said in a statement. "She ensured all members of her team had a voice and always put the welfare of her military family members ahead of her own.

"She was an outstanding officer, leader and role model, and her dedication to our State and Country will be missed."

Timmons began her military career in 1977 as an enlisted member of the Delaware Air National Guard, and was the first female air policeman for the 166th Airlift Wing. She then transferred to the Delaware Army National Guard, earning her commission in 1980 from Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Timmons held several roles throughout her military career, including Commander of the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Deputy Commander of the 455th Operations Group and Director of Mobility Forces, United States Air Forces Central Command. She also flew more than 10,000 hours as a commercial airline pilot for United Airlines.

Timmons is a graduate of Delaware Technical Community College, Wilmington University and the U.S. Air Force War College. 

In its statement announcing Timmons' death, the Delaware National Guard called her "a trailblazer for women in the military."

She chaired the National Guard’s Joint Diversity Executive Council, served on both the Air Force Reserve Policy Committee and the Board of the National Guard Association of the United States and was the Guard's first female two-star general.

When she became the first woman to lead the Delaware National Guard, she was one of only four women in the nation to lead a state guard.

"She was deeply sincere and positive, and she had a unique gift for making those around her feel valued and appreciated," Senator Chris Coons said in a statement.

Lt. Gen. Frank Vavala, center, stands at attention with Governor John Carney and Major General Carol Timmons, Adjutant General, Delaware National Guard, before being promoted to the rank of Four-Star General in the Delaware State Militia and become the first Four-Star General in Delaware’s history at the Governor's Day Review of Troops at Delaware State University in Dover.

At a ceremony to mark her retirement held last year in a hangar at the Delaware Army National Guard Aviation Support Facility in New Castle, Timmons said she was ready for some "leisure time."

The next chapter of her life included traveling on the ground to national parks and other destinations across the country, places she had only seen from above, she said.

"The time General Timmons served as Adjutant General was all too short, but she made every day count," Senator Tom Carper said in a statement.

Timmons is survived by her wife, Lynn. Funeral service information will be provided in a future update, a spokesperson for the Delaware National Guard said.

Contact Brandon Holveck at bholveck@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @holveck_brandon.