Stayce Harris AVS

Stayce Harris was inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen and female pilots to serve in the Air Force. She later became the first African American woman to serve as a United States Air Force Lieutenant General

Stayce Harris was born in 1959 in Los Angeles, California. She was supported by her mother, who worked as a banker, and her father, who served in the Air Force. Harris was inspired to follow in her father’s footsteps, feeling a duty to serve. Throughout her childhood, she traveled the world as her father’s duty locations changed every two years. She joined JROTC (Junior Reserve Training Corps) in high school and graduated from 71st High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1977.

Harris joined ROTC at the University of Southern California that same year, then graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and System Engineering in 1981. Following graduation, she worked for Hughes Aircraft for nine months. In 1983, she had the opportunity to meet some Tuskegee Airmen – the military’s first flying unit of African American pilots. Inspired, she joined the Air Force and soon attended pilot training. After earning a master’s degree in aviation management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1987, she attended Squadron Officer school at Maxwell Air Force Base and then served in various roles in refueling squads at bases in Washington D.C. and California.

In 2005, Harris became the first African American woman to command an Air Refueling Wing. From July 2009 to 2012, she worked for the Pentagon as a mobilization assistant to the commander of U.S. Africa Command. Following this, she became a major general in 2013. She also served as the head of the Air Force Reserve’s 22nd Air Force at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia for two years.

After 26 years as an Air Force Reservist, she received the opportunity of a lifetime: President Obama nominated her as a lieutenant general, and the Senate confirmed her nomination on Aug. 19, 2016. In 2017, Harris became the first African American female U.S. Air Force inspector general, overlooking the Air Force Inspection Agency and the Air Force Office of Special Investigation.

Harris retired from the Air Force Reserve on March 1, 2019. Over her 34 years of service, she logged over 2,500 hours in military aircrafts and received many awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Defense Superior Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.

In an interview with Kelly D. Evans from The Undefeated, Harris said she hopes her career inspires all to, “…find your passion and follow your passion with all of your drive and abandon… there’s turbulence out there, but those stumbling blocks, in my opinion, really serve as building blocks to get you where you want to go. So don’t be deterred if there are delays in you achieving your goal. I think you become stronger for it.”

We honor her service.


Writer: Hannah Nelson

Editors: Katherine Adams, Katherine Berman

Researcher: Kinsley Ballas

Graphic Designer: Katie Rahill

By DME Interns

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Published on Feb. 3, 2022

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 913

One Comment

  1. louis a nieves February 11, 2022 at 8:41 am

    as a fellow tanker outfit vet with the nj air guard 170 th arefg 77-86,vietnam 70-71 snd raf bentwaters 73-75. i salute you and may god bless you!

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