Cheddar News' sister station News 12 recently received exclusive access to the National Guard base where its members were involved in taking down an alleged Chinese surveillance balloon.
Senior reporter Tara Rosenblum said she got the scoop while interviewing Major General Denise Donnell for a report on Women's History Month. Donnell, notably, is one of the first women in the U.S. to command the 5,900 members of Stewart Air National Guard Base in New York
"I mean, this woman has really shattered the glass ceiling in so many aspects of military life, and while I was there, I thought to myself, oh boy, I better ask her about the story that is dominating every newscast, every newspaper in America and really across the globe," Rosenblum said.
Rosenblum and her "Turn to Tara" team was fully expecting Donnell to give a standard response, or even a "no common," which is common in a high stakes military situation.
"Much to my surprise, she answered our questions quite candidly and very quickly went on to reveal that yes, there is this elite unit under her command based right here in New York that played a supporting and pivotal role in the balloon's takedown," she said.
The unit is known as the Eastern Air Defense Sector. Its usual job is monitoring the safety of the skies over the U.S. Last week, the team worked closely with the Pentagon to track the balloon. Now the team is assisting with looking for more debris that could shed light on its function.
Donnell also touched on the timing of the mission, which is already garnering criticism from Republicans who say the Biden administration took too long to shoot the balloon down.
While Donnell insisted that she didn't want to get into politics, Rosenblum explained, she did stress the importance of waiting until the balloon was over open water to protect civilians.
"She said that she ultimately considers this mission a success and one that she feels that New Yorkers should be very proud of," said Rosenblum.