Air Force Veteran Marcelite J. Harris is today's Veteran of the day.

During Women’s History Month, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force Veteran Marcelite J. Harris, a trailblazer multiple times during her 32-year career.

Marcelite J. Harris was born in January 1943 in Houston, Texas. She attended Spelman College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in speech and drama with the goal of becoming an actress. When she could not find work in the entertainment industry, she joined the Air Force. Harris completed officer training school at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Her early career with the Air Force spanned across the world, from several posts in the United States, Germany, Thailand and Japan.

Harris was a trailblazer throughout her career. She was the first female aircraft maintenance officer, the Air Force’s first female director of maintenance and one of the first of two female air officers commanding at the Air Force Academy. She was also a White House staffer and social aid in the Ford and Carter administrations from 1975 to 1978.

Harris retired from the military in 1997 with the rank of major general after 32 years of service. She was the highest-ranking African American woman in the Department of Defense, as well as the highest-ranking female officer in the Air Force. During her service, Harris received a Bronze Star, Presidential Unit Citation and Vietnam Service Medal. In 1999, she was also awarded a honorary doctorate degree from her alma mater.

Following her retirement from the military, Harris joined NASA as the Florida site director. For the United States Space Alliance, she was the logistics process owner and managed the shuttle program. She was also the treasurer of the Atlanta branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a director on the board of the Peachtree Hope Charter School. In September 2010, President Obama appointed Harris to the Board of Visitors at the United States Air Force Academy.

Harris had two children with her husband, Lt. Col. Maurice Harris. She passed away on Sept. 7, 2018, and was buried with her husband at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors on Feb. 7, 2019.

We honor her service.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at


Writer: Erica MacSweeney

Editor: Rachel Falconer, Julia Pack

Fact checker: Caroline Seyer, Kinsley Ballas

Graphic artist: Courtney Carr

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Published on Mar. 3, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 319


  1. Maria Acevedo March 10, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    My name is Maria Acevedo. I would like to speak with someone that could help me. My father Jose Acevedo Mercado was a veteran of the US and fought in the Korean war. I never went to any ceremony that honored him or for participating in that war. I am so proud of what he did and would like to hear about what my father and others did while he was in the battle field. He used to tell us his stories and I imagined him there. He recently died on October 28 2020 of 95 years old. I miss him so much. He was my hero. Now that I am 55 years old, I would like to know what really happened while he was there with the rest of the soldiers.
    If someone can help me, I will appreciate that.


    Ms. Maria Acevedo

  2. MSgt Michael A Hairston, USAF, Ret March 5, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    I served with Lt Jordan in the 71st Tactical Missile Squadron, Bitburg AB, Germany. It hurts to know she is gone from us.

  3. Cheryl Fournier March 5, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    Sorry about that! I meant tearing out country apart. Hmmm, maybe you needed to hear it again?:))

  4. Senior Veterans Care Network March 3, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    We honor the service of Marcelite J. Harris.

Comments are closed.

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