Air Force’s first black female two-star general to be laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery

Kaylah Jackson
February 04, 2019 - 1:51 pm

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force)

The U.S. Air Force’s first black female major general will be buried with full military honors in Arlington Cemetery Thursday.

Major General Marcelite Jordan Harris, who served over 30 years in the U.S. Air Force in a variety of capacities, passed away unexpectedly on September 7, 2018, at age 75.

From one of two women air officers commanding at the U.S. Air Force Academy to serving as a White House aide during the Carter Administration and being the branch's first woman aircraft maintenance officer, Harris made history in her own right.

Harris was a graduate of Spelman College, a historically black institution and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She received her commission through OTS at Lackland AFB in 1965.

As the director of maintenance, deputy chief of staff logistics, at the Air Force headquarters in the nation’s capital, Harris was responsible for an annual budget of over $20 billion, as well as overseeing a workforce of thousands of technicians and managers.

In a Department of Defense interview, Harris offered plenty of advice for the women and men who would follow in her footsteps: “Know your job and do it well. Know your people…nothing is denied you by going into the military. You are important.”

In 1990, she was named Woman of the Year by the National Organization of Tuskegee Airmen and was honored with the Trailblazer Award by the Black Girls Rock foundation.

Harris will be buried alongside her husband Lt. Col. Maurice Harris on February 7, 2019, at Arlington National Cemetery.

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