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First female two-star general in the Maryland Air National Guard retires

by 1st Lt. Javier Cox 

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – Maryland Air National Guard Maj. Gen. April D. Vogel, the National Guard Bureau director of the Office of Legislative Liaison, retired after 29 years of service during a ceremony in the Fife and Drum Dining Room at the Patton Hall Community Club and Conference Center, January 26, 2024.

Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson and Maj. Gen. April D. Vogel hold Certificate of Appreciation signed by Pres. Joseph R. Biden, Commander in Chief. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Javier Cox) 

Vogel was the first female two-star general in the history of the Maryland Air National Guard when she was promoted in April 2022. While serving as assistant adjutant general, she was also dual-hatted as the Air National Guard assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force for International Affairs. She later served as the director for Manpower, Personnel, Recruiting, and Service at the Air National Guard Readiness Center, where she led the personnel management for 108,100 Airmen. 

U.S. Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, presided over the retirement ceremony and he presented Vogel with several awards, most notably the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal.

Gen. Hokanson and Maj. Gen. Vogel smile on as Brig. Gen. (ret) Bobbi J. Doorenbos gives her remarks as the guest speaker. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Javier Cox) 

Also in attendance was U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead, 31st adjutant general of Maryland, and retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Linda L. Singh, who also served as the commander of the Maryland National Guard. Along with retired Command Sgt. Maj. Perlisa Wilson, the MDNG senior enlisted leader at the time, Singh, Birckhead, and Vogel formed the National Guard’s first all-female command team across the 54 states and territories during Vogel’s tenure as assistant adjutant general for Air.

Retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Bobbi J. Doorenbos, a longtime friend and coworker, took the podium as the guest speaker. Doorenbos described Vogel as “the ultimate alchemist” as everything “she manages turns things into gold.” 

Maj. Gen. Vogel embraces Brig. Gen. Doorenbos after her remarks. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jim Greenhill)

 “She feels like she can conquer the world with a smile,” said       Doorenbos. 

 As she described their years of work together, Doorenbos   presented several mementos to highlight her appreciation of   Vogel. At the conclusion of the presentation of awards, Vogel was   presented a folded flag that she then gifted to her son. 

After receiving her bachelor’s degree and commission from the University of Colorado – Denver in 1994, Vogel spent more than 10 years of her career becoming a well-seasoned and well-traveled officer.

Her assignments took her around the country being stationed in locations such as Colorado, Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Maryland. When she first arrived in Maryland, she served as the assistant flight commander with the 135th Airlift Squadron and a C-130J Hercules pilot. 

After a tour at NGB, Vogel returned as the 135th Airlift Squadron commander and she oversaw the conversion of the C-130J to the C-27J Spartan aircraft. 

She was the 175th Wing deputy commander after another tour at NGB and attending National War College. 

In her next assignment, Vogel was the commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, where she was the first Air National Guard commander of an active-duty flying wing. 

Maj. Gen Vogel’s husband and son smile and hug at the conclusion of the ceremony. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jim Greenhill)

She also deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom too.

“We are tasked with the defense of the nation,” said Vogel in regards to those she commanded. 

She described her heartfelt sincerity for the family, friends, and service members that supported her throughout every step of her career.

“I did not think today was going to be as hard as I thought it’d be,” said Vogel. “But despite the tears, I am not sad.”