Vavala stepping down as head of National Guard; Timmons to serve as new adjutant general


Gov. Jack Markell awarded Frank Vavala the Order of the First State (highest individual award in the state) and promoted him to lieutenant general. (Delaware National Guard photo).

DOVER — Frank Vavala, who has served in the Cabinet of three governors over the past 18 years, will be retiring as adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard.

At a ceremony on Saturday at Dover Downs, Gov. Jack Markell awarded him the Order of the First State (highest individual award in the state) and promoted him to lieutenant general.

He will be replaced by Brig. Gen. Carol Timmons, who has been his deputy since 2012.

Lt. Gen. Vavala, responsible for overseeing both the Delaware Air and Army National Guard, will leave his position Feb. 1, 18 years to the day after he began in the role. He replaced the retiring George Hastings.

“The reason really is there’s a lot of factors but probably the most important is I’ve got almost 50 years of service,” Maj. Gen. Vavala, 69, said. “I have 50 years in March. That’s an anomaly.”

He enlisted in the Delaware Army National Guard as a private in 1967 and was commissioned a signal officer in 1970.

Brig. Gen. Carol Timmons, left, was selected by Gov.-elect John Carney, right, to head the Delaware National Guard. (Delaware National Guard photo)

While major generals are supposed to retire at 64 and state adjutant generals at 66, Maj. Gen. Vavala received special permission from Washington to lead the Delaware National Guard past that age upon the request of Gov. Jack Markell.

“That makes me probably the oldest member of our United States military,” Maj. Gen. Vavala said.

Brig. Gen. Timmons was selected by Gov.-elect John Carney to join his Cabinet as head of the Delaware National Guard.

“It’s a great honor,” she said. “I get butterflies thinking about it.”

She was commissioned in 1980 through the Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, after serving in the enlisted ranks for the Delaware Air National Guard’s 166th Security Forces Squadron.

Both Brig. Gen. Timmons and Maj. Gen. Vavala are highly decorated.

The adjutant general is responsible for handling personnel and resources and aiding the governor when need be.

“It entails a myriad of responsibilities,” Lt. Gen. Vavala said. “Essentially you’re the chief executive officer for both the Delaware Army and Delaware Air National Guard.”

The change in leadership, Brig. Gen. Timmons said, will not have major implications for guard members, who will be able to continue their duties as usual.

While both the outgoing and incoming adjutant general are excited for Brig. Gen. Timmons, Lt. Gen. Vavala does feel a pang of sadness.

“The guard has been my entire life,” he said.

With the announcement from Gov.-elect Carney’s office, only four cabinet positions remain unfilled.

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