Maj. Gen. Peggy C. Combs

Retiring general to receive honors in Oriskany, Syracuse

Published Nov 8, 2018 at 4:00pm

ORISKANY — U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Peggy C. Combs is full of pride to be from Oriskany, including being in Oriskany High School’s Class of 1981, and to be a 1985 alumnus of Syracuse University.

This week, her retirement as of Dec. 1 after 33 years in the military will be marked by special events in both Syracuse and Oriskany.

Combs, currently chief of staff at North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, has a retirement ceremony scheduled for today in Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse University campus.

On Friday morning she will be keynote speaker at the college’s annual Veterans Day ceremony in Hendricks Chapel, and Friday night she will be honored as a “hometown hero” during the Syracuse-Louisville football game at the Carrier Dome.

On Saturday, Oriskany American Legion Post 1448 will host a celebration of service event for Combs from 4-7 p.m. at its Route 69 facility.

“I really am proud to be from Oriskany,” Combs said Tuesday, adding it is an honor “to be from such a historical place” where the Battle of Oriskany occurred during the Revolutionary War.

Noting the links to history, Combs says “I’m from a place” where “if we didn’t win this battle” the war could have gone differently. Combs, whose maiden name is Huther, is the first general with ties to Oriskany since Gen. Nicholas Herkimer, who was the leader of the local militia at the Battle of Oriskany.

Of her college alma mater, Combs is “extremely appreciative” of Syracuse University for “going above and beyond all my expectations” regarding her retirement events. She observed “all I wanted” was to have her retirement ceremony at Hendricks Chapel, where she commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1985 to begin her service, and “they came up with the rest of the events.” It was “really nice of the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs” at the college, she added.

Combs emphasized “how proud I am of the university” for its overwhelming support of veterans and the military services.

Combs, who most recently was commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, Ky., said she has been to over 200 college campuses and Syracuse is the most supportive including its many veterans-related programs.

“I couldn’t be prouder....I’m proud to be an alum. I bleed Orange,” remarked Combs, referring to Syracuse University’s official color.

Her career in the military has “really been a great journey,” observed Combs. She has “met so many wonderful people,” and it is “what you kind of really take with you...the great folks you served with.”

Referring to the many other places that one sees while in the military, Combs said it helps develop an appreciation for “what we have here....No doubt we live in the world’s greatest country.”

Combs, who is married to retired Lt. Col. Brad Combs and has three children, said she is hoping to live in Florida upon her retirement. She commented that one of her military stations had been in Tampa, Fla., where she enjoyed the sunnier weather.

Combs’ military career has included leadership and staff positions at several locations including tactical, operational and strategic levels. She was honored with her first star in a promotion to brigadier general in 2012, and was promoted to major general in 2014.

Her awards and decorations include the Army Legion of Merit (two oak leaf clusters), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Meritorious Service Medal (five oak leaf clusters), the Joint Service Achievement Medal (one oak leaf cluster), the Army Commendation Medal (three oak leaf clusters), the Army Achievement Medal (one oak leaf cluster), the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Parachutist Badge and the Air Assault Badge.