Governor Kay Ivey announced on Thursday the retirement of Major General Sheryl Gordon, who has served as the Alabama National Guard adjutant general for the last six years.

Ivey selected Alabama native Brigadier General David Pritchett to serve as the next leader of the Guard.

Gordon has led the Alabama National Guard since Ivey appointed her in 2017. 

“In 2017, when I tapped General Gordon to serve as adjutant general of the Alabama National Guard, I noted she was a trailblazer and visionary leader. Her record throughout her tenure has proven that to be true, and I commend her for her service,” Ivey said. “While it is important to applaud her for being Alabama’s first female adjutant general, I am proudest of her decades of military service and steadfast leadership. I know General Gordon will continue contributing to this state we call home and our nation.”

According to a news release, Ivey requested through the National Guard Bureau in 2022 an extension for General Gordon’s service through the end of 2023 so that she could see through certain leadership and project priorities. “Together over the last year-plus, the governor and General Gordon have made preparations for the change of command at the Alabama National Guard to occur in January,” the release said.

Gordon is the subject of a Department of Defense Inspector General’s complaint filed by Wyoming-based retired Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Carden last week that cites federal law requiring adjutant generals to retire by the last day of the month they turn 66. Gordon turns 67 on Friday. The complaint is an appeal of an initial complaint filed by Carden in April with the same office that was dismissed. Carden alleges Gordon has been illegally serving in her role for almost 11 months, according to the complaint.

Mack Muzio, director of public affairs with the Alabama National Guard told 1819 News on Monday, "Lt. Col. Carden’s assertion about federal law is incorrect.” 

“You can find the actual law here in Title 10, Ch. 63 of the U.S. Code: Relevant to this discussion is the following excerpt under section C:  “The Secretary of the military department concerned may … defer the retirement or separation … of any officer … if the Secretary determines that such deferral is in the best interest of the military department concerned. … a deferment … may not extend beyond the first day of the month following the month in which the officer becomes 68 years of age.” Finally, it should also be noted that neither federal nor state law requires the National Guard’s Adjutant General to have federal recognition as a general officer. The position serves at the Governor’s discretion and, if so chosen, could continue in a state status indefinitely,” Muzio said.

Carden said in a statement to 1819 News on Wednesday, "The Alabama National Guard falsely claims that federal law, 10 USC Chapter 63, allows the Adjutant General to serve past 66;  that section of law only deals with Regular officers and those O-6 Colonels and below.  It does not apply to Reserve officers, like Major General Gordon.”

“The sections of federal law that applies to MG Gordon deals specifically with Reserve officers," Carden said. "They are 10 USC 14512 and 14515.  It states, 'Unless retired, transferred to the Retired Reserve, or discharged at an earlier date, a reserve officer of the Army or Air Force who is specified in paragraph (2) shall on the last day of the month in which the officer becomes 66 years of age, be separated in accordance with section 14515 of this title.' Adjutant Generals are specifically named later in that section. There are no exemptions or extensions of retirement for Reserve officers in that law. The Guard also stated that Alabama law doesn't require the Adjutant General to have federal recognition. That is false. Alabama law 31-2-58 states, "The Adjutant General shall be appointed from active officers of the federally recognized National Guard.”

The governor’s appointment of General Pritchett is effective Jan.1, 2024. The official change of command ceremony will be Jan. 5, 2024.

“I’ve been blessed with a long career, and I am certainly proud of one constant effort, and that has been supporting and equipping the outstanding Soldiers and Airmen of Alabama. My greatest accomplishments have everything to do with the Guardsmen — the Guardsmen being promoted, awarded and achieving their dreams, goals and potential,” Gordon said in a statement announcing her retirement. “I thank Governor Ivey for entrusting me with this duty. It has truly been the highest honor and pleasure to serve the nation’s finest men and women, and I wish General Pritchett even greater success in doing the same. ‘It Shall Be Done!’”

Ivey announced Jefferson County native and Auburn alum Pritchett will be returning to Alabama to serve as the adjutant general of the National Guard. He currently serves as director of the joint staff for the Wyoming National Guard.

“We are fortunate to have General Pritchett return to Alabama to serve at the helm of the National Guard. His exceptional military experience and diverse leadership background will help us forge on with existing projects and missions and will help foster even more growth at the Alabama National Guard,” Ivey said. “There is no better person to fill the shoes left by General Gordon, and I am proud General Pritchett will be joining us in the Ivey Administration. I look forward to working with him in the years to come to ensure Alabama always stands ready and is always there to protect and serve.”

Pritchett, who has several awards and decorations, has a wide-ranging military service, including many stints in Alabama. He received his military start in 1988 in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in Bessemer but has spent most of his years serving in the Alabama National Guard.

“I am grateful to Governor Ivey on my upcoming appointment to be the next adjutant general of the Alabama National Guard. This organization has a storied past of service to our great state and country,” Pritchett said. “Our Soldiers, Airmen and Civilians are prepared to face any challenge to ensure the safety of our citizens, protect critical infrastructure, and if necessary, to deploy overseas to fight and win our nation’s wars. I am both honored and humbled to be the next leader of the Alabama National Guard.”

He attended Auburn University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration. He also earned his Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. His training is extensive and includes Field Artillery Officer Basic Course, Field Artillery Captains’ Career Course, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, Fire Support Coordinators Course, Field Artillery Pre-Command Course, Air Defense Artillery Reclassification Course and Dual Status Commander’s Course.

General Pritchett’s wife Julie is a native of Fort Payne, and they have three adult children: Katelyn, Clay and Anna Chris.

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