Col. Denise M. Donnell has chased pirates in the South China Sea and flown all manner of aircraft, from the sub-hunting P-3 Orion to the massive, cargo-carrying C-5 Galaxy. But perhaps one of the best parts of her job brings her to Antarctica each austral summer.
The first female commander of the Air Expeditionary Group (AEG) for Support Forces Antarctica, Donnell oversees all the moving parts of the military support – known as Operation Deep Freeze – at McMurdo Station in coordination with the National Science Foundation, which manages the U.S. Antarctic Program.
“The sense of being part of something bigger than yourself, whether it is the National Science Foundation or the New York Air National Guard, is a pretty incredible feeling and one of the best things I have got out of being in the military,” says the pilot, wife and mother of two. “It’s an opportunity of a lifetime to be in Antarctica.”
When not on the Ice, Donnell is the commander of the 109th Maintenance Group of the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base in New York. The 109th Airlift Wing works to support the 139th Airlift Squadron, which is tasked primarily with flying the ski-equipped LC-130 across the continent. The position of AEG commander rotates among several officers during the season.
Source:: Antarctic Sun Featured Articles