Brother and Sister in Arms

Story by Capt. Andi Hahn, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs 

SGM Janet Timberlake Promotion

Sgt. Maj. Janet Timberlake is congratulated by her brother, Marine Brig. Gen. Craig Timberlake during a promotion ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Dec. 11, 2012.  Timberlake was surrounded by family members for the milestone event. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Capt. Andi Hahn)

FRANKFORT, Ky.— Kentucky National Guard Soldier Master Sgt. Janet Timberlake was promoted to the rank of sergeant major by her brother, Marine Brig. Gen. Craig Q. Timberlake, during a ceremony at Boone National Guard Center Dec. 11, 2012.

Janet Timberlake is the Joint Operations Center non-commissioned officer in charge and is the first Kentucky National Guard black female to be pinned a sergeant major, the highest enlisted rank in the Army.

To see more photos from the promotion ceremony, click here.

Janet Timberlake began her military career in 1982 with the 475th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. MASH’s wartime mission was to bring emergency lifesaving surgery closer to critically wounded casualties.  Ironically enough, in 1985, Janet Timberlake met Command Sgt. Maj. Pat Copas, fellow Kentucky Guardsmen and the only other female promoted to sergeant major this year.

Since joining the military, Janet Timberlake has deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.

Janet Timberlake’s brother, Craig Timberlake, is the commanding general of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade located in the Pacific Area of Operation.  He flew in to Frankfort, Ky., from Okinawa, Japan to participate in the honor of pinning his little sister to the hard-achieved rank of sergeant major. Craig Timberlake was once a staff sergeant and later commissioned and climbed the Marine ranks to brigadier general.

“It is my absolute pleasure to be here today,” said Craig Timberlake.  “I am humbled to promote my sister.”

“In our lives, you have a couple different families around; you are sworn into a military family just like most of you folks here today,” he said.  “But, you also have your immediate family, and today we have very special people here to share in this important event.”

SGM Janet Timberlake Promotion

Newly promoted Sgt. Maj. Janet Timberlake joins family members for a group portrait during a promotion ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Dec. 11, 2012. Timberlake had 12 relatives at the ceremony, including her brother, Marine Brig. Gen. Craig Timberlake. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Capt. Andi Hahn)

In attendance, Janet Timberlake had 12 total family members at the ceremony to include her other two bothers Rickey and Vincent Timberlake.  Her grandmother Cynthia Wright and aunt Addie Wright who raised her and her brother after the loss of their parents at an early age were also in attendance.

“Some may think that my childhood story is sad,” Janet Timberlake said.  “I only share it with others because I want them to see that I have used my story not as an excuse to fail, but a reason to succeed,” she said. “I feel blessed, humbled and honored to have been promoted to sergeant major.”