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Alabama National Guard gets new leader, first female adjutant generalStory by Maj. Andrew J. Richardson
Maj. Gen. Sheryl E. Gordon, first female adjutant general of the Alabama National Guard, assumes command. Photo by Sgt. Eric Roberts
Alabama's Gov. Kay Ivey presided over a change of command ceremony at the Alabama National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama, July 28, 2017. Major General Sheryl E. Gordon took over the reins as the forty-second (42nd) Adjutant General of the Alabama National Guard from Major General Perry G. Smith, who has headed the organization since January 2011.
In a traditional military ceremony, Smith relinquished the colors of the Alabama National Guard to the governor – the Commander-In-Chief of the Alabama National Guard – who then handed them to Gordon as a symbol of the responsibility.
Gordon is no stranger to the Alabama National Guard, having served more than 33 years in the Alabama Army National Guard before her retirement in 2013. The Adjutant General serves both as the state cabinet member for the State Military Department as well as the senior military leader of the Alabama National Guard comprised of the Alabama Army and Air National Guard. As such, she is responsible for more than 13,000 soldiers, airmen and civilian employees, as well as the associated infrastructure and equipment.
Gordon is the first female to serve as the Alabama National Guard Adjutant General, just as she was the Alabama Army National Guard's first brigadier general in 2009, and first major general in 2011. Gordon realizes that she is a role model for others, and a mentor; but when all is said and done, she says, "I'm a soldier who just happens to be a female."
Gordon is also retired from a long career in education as the Assistant Principal of Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City.
Throughout her military career, Gordon has commanded at every level, including as commander of the 62nd Troop Command, in Montgomery, where she led more than 5,000 soldiers. She also served as the Assistant Adjutant General - Army and Land Forces Component Commander for the Alabama National Guard.
Ivey expressed her appreciation to Smith and her confidence in Gordon. "Because of your character and tenacity, you've been chosen to serve in this capacity - to lead your fellow Soldiers in the Alabama National Guard," Ivey said of Gordon. "Day after day you remain faithful to your duty," she continued, speaking to the Soldiers and Airmen of the Alabama Guard. "I know I can always turn to the Alabama National Guard men and women."
Gordon addressed the assembled soldiers, airmen, family and guests conveying her goals for the Alabama Guard and her commitments to its soldiers and airmen. "I commit to you that I will lead this organization with integrity." said Gordon. She also promised an organization with "true equal opportunity", and an environment of "personal & professional growth and mentorship".
Gov. Kay Ivey addresses the crowd. Photo by Sgt. Jeremy Dunkle