West Virginia Air Guard welcomes newest general officer

  • Published
  • By Maj. Holli Nelson
  • West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

The West Virginia Air National Guard welcomed its newest general officer to its ranks March 3, 2019, during a formal promotion ceremony for Brig. Gen. Ray Shepard held at the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg.

Shepard will be stepping into the role of Chief of Staff for the WVANG, serving under Brig. Gen. Christopher “Mookie” Walker, the Assistant Adjutant General – Air. As the Chief of Staff, he is the deputy commander of the WVANG and provides command and control over the headquarters staff.

The newly promoted general was joined by his wife, Karen; children, Dawson, Hallie, Kierra, Isabella, and Alexander; special guests and members of the 167th and 130th Airlift Wings.

Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, the Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard lauded Shepard’s abilities as he assumes his new role stating, “General Shepard brings a lifetime of experience and passion to this new rank that will greatly benefit the men and women under his command. I am tremendously confident in his abilities to lead the West Virginia Air National Guard to ever higher accomplishments and mission success.”

Shepard most recently served as the State Staff Judge Advocate for the WVANG where he conferred with and advised the Adjutant General, the Assistant Adjutant General, and the Chief of Staff on all legal matters of concern to the West Virginia National Guard. His duties and responsibilities included preparing and rendering opinions on military justice matters, state legal policies, courts-martial and interpretation of regulations, laws and directives.

“I couldn’t be more proud to be standing here as a general officer,” Shepard said. “I never thought this day would come, to be honest. But now that it has, I want to help all of us become the best we can be. We already are. This will be the easiest job I can step into because the people who have come before me have trained you very well.”

Shepard enlisted in the Air Force in June of 1985 and initially served as a Combat Arms Training and Maintenance Instructor in the Maryland Air National Guard.  During law school, he joined the U.S. Navy and following graduation served as a JAG officer in Norfolk, Virginia. As lead prosecutor for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, he pursued sabotage charges against protestors who damaged a nuclear submarine and prosecuted many other felony cases for the Navy in federal court.

Following his time on active duty, Shepard served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in West Virginia and joined the West Virginia Air National Guard in 1999.

Shepard highlighted the new National Defense Strategy and what the West Virginia Air National Guard needs to look toward in the future stating, “The big takeaway is that we’re going to become more lethal and more agile as we move into the next century. Technology is changing the battle space, the way we fight, new weapons, and new platforms. All of these things are new challenges for us, and we have to adapt. I have no doubt as I stand here today that if a 'Ft. McHenry' moment came upon anyone in this room wearing the uniform, that you, like our forefathers and sisters, would step up and save America again.”

Outside his role in the WVANG, Shepard is the founder of, and is fully responsible for the operation and management of his private law firm in Pasadena, Maryland.