Brig. Gen. Laura Yeager, a Fountain Valley native, will become 1st female to lead a U.S. Army Infantry unit

Published: Jun 06, 2019
Orange County

LOS ALAMITOS — Brig. Gen. Laura Yeager, a Fountain Valley native who early in her career served as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter aeromedical evacuation pilot, will become the first woman in history to lead a U.S. Army Infantry Division.

Yeager is scheduled to assume command of the California National Guard’s storied 40th Infantry Division during a ceremony at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos on June 29. Yeager will take command from Maj. Gen. Mark Malanka, who is retiring.

Yeager currently commands the Joint Task Force North, U.S. Northern Command at Ft. Bliss, in Texas.

She began her active-duty military service in May 1986, receiving her commission as a second lieutenant from the Reserve Officer Training Corps at California State University, Long Beach. She completed military helicopter training in 1989, and upon completion served as a pilot.

Yeager left active duty after eight years when her son was born, but later continued her military career in the California Army National Guard.

In 2011, Yeager deployed to Iraq as the deputy commander of the Cal Guard’s 40th Combat Aviation Brigade. There, she served as battalion commander of the 3rd Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment, and brigade commander of the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade.

The 40th Infantry Division was formed in 1917, its soldiers having fought in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. It soldiers also have deployed to Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and many other locations around the world.

In March, the division headquarters returned to the U.S. after completing a train, advise and assist mission in Afghanistan.