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June 7, 2011

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14 TUESDAY, JUNE 7 - THURSDAY, JUNE 9w 2011 Saltwater. Portrait )) Cape Gazette By Ron MacArthur series of defining mo- ments has helped write the fascinating story of Carol A. Tim- mons' life. One of the fast fe- male combat pilots and the first brigadier general ever in the Delaware Air National Guard, her life is one best defined by historic moments. Like a star athlete, the pilot's statistics would qualify her for the Hall of Fame, flying 9,000 civilian hours and 5,000 military hours. And, in fact, the Re- hoboth Beach resident was in- ducted into the Delaware Women's Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame in 2007. Yet, those hours are only one chapter. As a trendsetter and barrier-breaker in a male-domi- nated field, she was One of the first female pilots to fly in com- bat. She has never let gender get in her way to do the one thing she has always wanted to do - fly jets. For her efforts in 2008, com- manding a combat deployment to Afghanistan, she received the Bronze Star. She directed 700 troops through 6,700 air sup- port, air drops, medical evacua- tions and search-and-rescfle missions, handling millions of pounds of cargo and munltlons, thousands of passengers and hundreds of medical patients. The unit's fast female pilot has flown missions in the C-130 in support of Bosnia, Kosovo and other global operations. In 2003, her unit was activated for Operation Iraqi Freedom, an ac- tivation that lasted almost three years. "My favorite place is the left seat of a C-130," she says. While flying in and out of 4u~m~v- RON MACARTHUR PHOTO GEN. CAROL TIMMONS wasa guest speaker at a recent ceremony at AMVETS Post 2 in Long Neck. Baghdad, she realized she was in the right place. "I was doing what I was told I couldn't do," she said. She has carried out more than 100 combat flying missions. "It was so tough. I never thought I would see a change in my career because the barriers to women were that strong," she said. At 53, she is the first brigadier general in the history of the Delaware Air National Guard. She received her general's stars in a May 14 ceremony in front of 500 people. It was a long }oumey from the single enlisted airman's stripe she received in early 1977. As defining as the moments are, there is still another on a day that will live in her mind forever. A connec'don to 9/TI On Sept. 11, 2001, Timmons was copilot of United Airlines Flight 23 on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy Airport. Prepared to take off, the plane was among all other U.S. flights ordered to re- Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, adjutant general, Delaware National Guard, left, swears in Brigadier Gen. Carol "l'immons during a May 14 ceremony. PHOTOS COURTESY OF GEN. CAROL TIMMONS Carol Timmons stands in the back of a C-130 on her first Iraq deployment in 2003. turn to the gate. Although it was never official- ly confirmed by government of- fic'mls, author Lynn Spencer claims Flight 23 was the fifth plane in al-Qaeda's hijack plans. At least three Arab passengers left the plane once It reached the gate. There were reports of box cutters and al-Q.aeda documents left in their carry-on luggage. Spencer included her findings on Flight 23 in the 2008 book, "Touching History: The Untold Story of the Drama that Unfold- ed in the Skies Over America 9/11:' "Officially, I can't talk about that," Timmons said. "What 1 can say is that we were notified to barricade the door and return to the gate." Timmons said the FBI inter- viewed the crew, but no one was told any information after the in- terviews. "The mystery of Flight 23 is still out there because there has never been any confn'ma- tion," she said. There was no mention of Flight 23 in the official 9/11 Com- mission Report. The day was a sad one for Timmons because she had worked with thepilots, crew and flight attendants on hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 that took off from Newark Interna- tional Airport and eventually crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa. "It could have been any of us; I knew them all and will never forget them," she said. As Deputy Ops Group Commander, 4S5th Expeditionary Operations Group, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, Carol Timmons was awarded the Bronze Star. Her dream has been to fly jets It was about that time that the She was 5 years old when she fast women were allowed in Air decided she wanted to be a pilot, Force flight training classes. But but growing up near New Castle, because the C-130 was consid- she didfft have much opportuni- ered a combat-mission plane, ty to get close to a plane - even she was not allowed tO fly it. though the New Castle County Undeterred, in 1980 she joined Airport, home to the Air Guard the Army National Guard, where - was not that far away. That she was trained to fly helicop- would eventually change as heli- ters and earned a bachelor's de- copters and airplanes would be- gree in aviation management at come an integral part of her life. Wilmington College. She took her first solo in a UHq Huey During her childhood, she was interested in sports and helped helicopter, not an airplane. Still with family chores as the oldest determined to realize her child- of five brothers and sisters, hood dream, she switched to the But after graduation in 1977 Air Force Reserves, where she from W'dliam Penn High School, could fly noncombat missions she joined the Delaware Air Na- on C-141 transports. During tional Guard and was able to fly Desert Storm in the early 1990s, in her first C-130 during summer then-Capt. Timmons flew her camp in Savannah, Ga. She was fast combat support missions in hooked. Continued on page 15