Published April 25, 2016
Major General (Ret.) Susan Desjardins served as a command pilot, accumulating more than 3,800 flying hours in the KC-10, C-17, C-5, KC-135R, KC-135A and T-37 aircraft. In 1980, she commissioned as part of the first female cadet class from the U.S. Air Force Academy. She was also the first female commander of the 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. She then became the first female commandant of cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. She held staff positions at the major command, Joint Staff and Headquarters U.S. Air Force levels, including deputy military assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force. Desjardins attributes her success in the Air Force to her father, Albert E. Desjardins. She said, “He was a Korean War veteran and always challenged my thoughts on the traditional roles of men and women.” Throughout her career, Desjardins counseled Airmen on equality and mentored cadets to never settle for less because of gender. Today, she serves her community as a board member of the American Independence Museum in Exeter, N.H. She is also a National Defense Committee Chair of the Daughters of the American Revolution.