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S.C. Air National Guard promotes first female general officer

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jim St. Clair
  • Joint Forces Headquarters

In another historic Swamp Fox milestone, Brig. Gen. Theresa B. Prince was promoted during a ceremony Saturday, becoming the South Carolina Air National Guard's first female general officer in its 69 year history.

Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Jim Chow, former Special Assistant to the Director Air National Guard, presided over the ceremony. "Ever since we met, I saw a rising star in both her civilian and military career. I got to witness her leadership style first hand. She's the perfect person who leads by example. She's firm, just, and takes no excuses," Chow said in his introductory remarks.

There were many distinguished visitors on hand including Maj. Gen. Gregory Batts, the South Carolina National Guard Deputy Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. Michael Hudson, the South Carolina Air National Guard Chief of Staff, Brig. Gen. (sel.) Russell Rushe, the South Carolina National Guard Assistant Adjutant General-Air, Col. David Meyer, 169th Fighter Wing Commander, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Gerald Harmon, and Brig. Gen. (ret.) Calvin Elam. In addition, Prince's son K.P., her daughter Julia, along with Prince's parents from Boston, three sisters and many other family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors were on hand in the Joint Armed Forces Reserve Center auditorium to witness this special occasion. 

Prince serves as an Air National Guard Assistant to the Nurse Corps Chief at the Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. In that capacity, she assists the Chief Nurse of the U.S. Air Force in plans and policies as they relate to Air National Guard nurses. On the civilian side, Prince has worked as a nurse practitioner at Lexington Medical Center for over 19 years. The Boston native began her military career in 1978 and spent four years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force as a supply technician at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. She then transferred to the U.S. Air Force Reserve in Massachusetts and worked as a flight medic in the 74th Air Evacuation Squadron at Westover AFB while she attended nursing school. After graduation, she received her commission in 1987 as a flight nurse. A traditional reservist, as a civilian she worked concurrently as a nurse at Boston City Hospital.

After her marriage to her husband Ken, her husband's work brought them to South Carolina. Subsequently, she transferred into the SCANG in 1996. "That's how I ended up being a southern girl," Prince said. "It was a bit of a culture shock."

Prince has served in several positions with the South Carolina Air National Guard including family nurse practitioner, chief nurse and commander of the 169th Medical Group. Prince and her husband reside in Gaston, S.C.

Prince is a veteran of multiple overseas deployments during her career including Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Concluding his remarks, Chow said, "[Prince] is a shining example of the Air Force's core values of integrity, service before self and excellence in all we do."

After publishing the promotion order, Chow, along with Ken Prince pinned stars onto her uniform coat to make it official. Prince's son K.P. and daughter Julia replaced the epaulets on Prince's uniform shirt. Chow then administered the oath of office to Prince. The 169th Fighter Wing Honor Guard then unfurled Prince's 1-star flag.

"I am honored to be the first [female general officer.] I want to do a good job and leave the door open for all the men and women who will come behind me," Prince said.

Reflecting back on her 37 year military career, Prince said she's come a long way from her humble days as an enlisted Airman. "Never in a million years did I think this Boston girl would make it this far. But I have been very, very fortunate and I have had a lot of good people take care of me and mentor me along the way. Without them I would not have been nearly as successful."

In her concluding remarks, Prince thanked her husband for being "100 percent supportive of me and my military career." She also thanked all the Airmen she has worked with over the years.  "I am a living example that hard work and perseverance can make anything possible. I respectfully accept this position and I pledge to continue to serve with all the integrity, courage and conviction which brought me here. I don't take this position lightly and I just want to do the best job I can for the men and women in the South Carolina Air National Guard."