Story by: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Posted on: January 20, 2016

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott administers the oath of office to Brig. Gen. Dawn M. Ferrell during her promotion ceremony Jan. 15, 2016, in the Texas Capitol's Senate Chambers. Abbott appointed Ferrell as the Deputy Adjutant General - Air for the Texas Military Department's Texas Air National Guard. Ferrell is the first female to hold the rank of general officer in the TXANG. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott administers the oath of office to Brig. Gen. Dawn M. Ferrell during her promotion ceremony Jan. 15, 2016, in the Texas Capitol's Senate Chambers. Abbott appointed Ferrell as the Deputy Adjutant General - Air for the Texas Military Department's Texas Air National Guard. Ferrell is the first female to hold the rank of general officer in the TXANG. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)

AUSTIN, Texas – In 1983, Dawn M. Ferrell enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard as a slick-sleeve airman basic.

Nearly 33 years later, now-Brig. Gen. Dawn M. Ferrell continues to serve the Texas Air National Guard and made history becoming its first female general officer.

To celebrate this milestone, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Military Department senior leaders and Ferrell’s family and friends attended her promotion ceremony Jan. 15, in the Texas Capitol’s Senate Chambers, with Abbott administering her oath of office.

“I’m humbled and I’m proud to have been chosen for this position, and I recognize that this is an important step for the Texas Air National Guard,” Ferrell said. “I honestly didn’t realized that there hadn’t been a female before, but I think it’s just another way of showing everybody that anybody can do anything in the Air Force.”

Abbott appointed Ferrell the Texas Military Department’s Deputy Adjutant General-Air in November 2015.

“Dawn Ferrell has earned the promotion she is being recognized for today,” Abbott said. “Texas is about advancement and in Texas, we believe you can achieve anything if you work hard and strive with ambition to achieve great things. Dawn Ferrell is the newest and greatest example of what we believe in Texas.”

Thinking back to the beginning of her career, Ferrell remembers only wanting to serve her initial commitment in the guard and later planned to pursue a college degree. However, once in the TXANG, Ferrell said she loved being in the military and a member of the guard, whose unique part-time structure allowed her to do both.

“I was just going to do my initial six-year enlistment,” Ferrell said. “I wanted to go to college and see what happens. I never thought that 32 and a half years later I’d still be here.”

Ferrell was able to pursue her education, earning a bachelor of arts, master of arts, and doctorate of philosophy degrees, as well as a successful civilian career in higher education while progressing through the ranks of the TXANG.

“I absolutely loved being in the military and being a part of the guard and the great thing about being in the guard is you get to experience both,” she said.

Ferrell has grown in her career at the 136th Airlift Wing from an aerial port specialist to an aerial port officer and group commander.

“No matter what the barrier is – perceived or not – you go around or you go over, but you don’t stop,” she said. 

Ferrell attributes her success to her will to succeed and never quit, regardless of the obstacle. That same attitude has taken her to serve in positions such as director of plans and logistics operations at International Security Assistance Force headquarters Afghanistan and to coordinating response efforts during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in New Orleans and Houston.

And now as deputy adjutant general, she plans to ensure the TXANG is always ready to serve, whether it’s a federal or state mission, as well as seek new missions for the state. 

“Be ready for whatever opportunities come your way,” she said. “There may be different paths to get there, so do things you need to do to be prepared so that when opportunities come along, you won’t miss it.”