Retired Major General Jessica L. Wright was named the 50th adjutant general and commander of the Pennsylvania National Guard Feb. 3, 2004, and sworn in by Gov. Edward G. Rendell March 5, 2004. She was the first female adjutant general. In this cabinet position, she was responsible for command, control and supervision of all Air and Army National Guard units allocated to the state of Pennsylvania, six state-owned veterans’ homes, Scotland School for Veterans’ Children and programs for Pennsylvania’s 1.1 million veterans. Prior to this assignment, she served as the acting adjutant general, a post she assumed Jan. 2, 2004; and prior to that, deputy adjutant general – Army, Pennsylvania Army National Guard since May 1, 2000.
Gen. Wright was born in Monessen, Pa. She began her military career as an enlistee in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1975, after graduating from Alderson Broaddus College with a bachelor's degree in social work. Gen. Wright also holds a master's degree in management from Webster University, St. Louis, Mo., and an honorary doctorate degree in public service.
After completion of the Information Specialist Course at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind., she attended the Women's Army Corps Officer Orientation/Officer Candidate School at Fort McClellan, Ala., and the Adjutant General Basic Course at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind.
In 1978, she attended the Officers Rotary Wing Aviator Course at Fort Rucker, Ala., and became the first female Army aviator in the Army National Guard. In addition, she is a graduate of the CH-47 Aviator Qualification Course, CH-54 Aviator Qualification Course, Medical Service Corps Officer Advanced Course, Command and General Staff College, Army Management Staff College and Army War College Military Fellowship at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C.
Gen. Wright began her service as a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1975. Upon completion of flight school, she joined the 228th Aviation Company as a UH-1 and CH-47 pilot and was later appointed as the adjutant of the 28th Aviation Battalion. In 1982, she joined the 1028th Transportation Company (Heavy Helicopter) as the flight operations platoon commander, and in 1983, joined the Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site, where she served as the assistant operations and training officer and flight operations officer. After transferring to the Georgia Army National Guard in 1985, she joined the 1160th Transportation Company (Heavy Helicopter) where she served as the flight operations platoon commander.
Gen. Wright joined the Title 10 Active Guard and Reserve program in 1986 and was assigned as an assistant professor of military science at Georgia Southern College, Statesboro, Ga. In 1989, she was reassigned to Headquarters, National Guard Bureau, where she served as a personnel staff officer; executive officer and chief of the budget and services branch; chief of the tours management office, Army National Guard Personnel Directorate; and chief, personnel service division, Army National Guard Personnel Directorate.
Gen. Wright served as commander, 28th Aviation Brigade, 28th Infantry Division (Mechanized) based at Fort Indiantown Gap from June 1997 to November 1998. She was the first female maneuver brigade commander in the Army. Prior to her assuming the deputy adjutant general – Army position, Gen. Wright served as the state Army aviation officer. She was promoted to her current rank March 5, 2004.
Gen. Wright's awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Armed Forces Reserve Medal. Additionally, she is a senior Army aviator and is a recipient of the Army Staff Identification Badge, the Order of St. Michael, the Order of St. Joan de Arc and the ATHENA Award. She is a former member of the ATHENA Foundation board of directors.