By Bo Wriston
West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs
The West Virginia National Guard celebrated an historic milestone Dec. 2, 2021, when Col. Michaelle M. Munger was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, making her the first ever female to become a general officer for the West Virginia Army National Guard in state history.
Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, The Adjutant General of West Virginia, presided over the ceremony at the WVNG headquarters in Charleston.
“Michaelle shines as a leader and mentor. She has a tremendous reserve of energy and enthusiasm which she brings to bear every single day,” stated Crane. “Soldiers know competent leaders when they see them, and Michaelle exudes competence, professionalism, integrity, and is one of the best communicators I have ever had the honor of serving with. She brings a wealth of knowledge, skill, and passion to her new rank and to our One Guard family, which will benefit our entire organization.”
“While it is significant that she has become the first ever female general officer for the West Virginia Army National Guard, it is her truest qualities as a leader that we honor and recognize today,” he continued.
Over her 27-year, Munger has served in every component of the U.S. Army – active duty, U.S. Army Reserves, and the Army National Guard. She was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1994 and has served in various roles of increasing responsibility, including working for the National Guard Bureau and at the Pentagon.
Her recent assignments include Associate Director, Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment/Facilities Investment and Management; and as Deputy Director, Real Property Maintenance, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness, Programming and Resources. Munger served from August 2017- August 2019 as the director of joint operations for the WVNG and as the first female brigade commander for WVARNG at the 77th Brigade Troop Command.
While Munger is the first female general officer in the history of the West Virginia Army National Guard, she follows in the footsteps of Brig. Gen. Paige P. Hunter, who was promoted to brigadier general in 2016, upon assuming command of the West Virginia Air National Guard.
“Today is an incredible day,” said Munger. “I am tremendously excited that Governor Justice and Maj. Gen. Crane have the confidence and faith in me to give me this opportunity. I feel blessed to be here. Attaining high rank in the military, whether as an officer or in the enlisted corps, requires hard and focused effort; it is a long-road and it not easy. But it is achievable for any Soldier or Airman and today proves that.”
Munger feels that having a female perspective and female voice at the table is an important element in promoting Army values.
“Having a female voice at the table is critical in strengthening our National Guard,” she said. “What we bring to the mission is unique not because we are females, but because of our ability to approach the mission in perhaps a different perspective and viewpoint. Additionally, by being at the table, we can display our competency and capabilities, and to dispel stereotypes to help younger Soldiers not face the same gender-related limitations and hurdles we might have faced in our own careers. Every Soldier needs to be heard and judged based not on their sex, but by their ideas and vision.”
“My own method to success has been perseverance and self-reflection,” she said. “And I try to instill in every Soldier I work with to be the 4 Ps; Productive, Present, Prompt, Professional. I am super-excited for the talented, smart, bright, energetic younger crop of women now entering the military and the opportunities and doors that are continually opening to them. They inspire me, and hopefully, I inspire them too. But I want to be a role model for all Soldiers, not just females, that doing the right thing, growing where you are planted, and making the effort will allow you to succeed.”
Munger will serve as Special Assistant to the Adjutant General of West Virginia in her new role. She will assist with special projects, mentorship, inclusion and diversity initiatives and leadership development within the WVNG.