Marcelite J. Harris
|Maj. Gen Marcelite J. Harris|
U.S. Air Force Photo
January 16, 1943 |
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Air Force|
|Years of service||1965–1997|
|Unit||United States Air Force Academy|
Major General Marcelite J. Harris (born January 16, 1943, Houston, Texas) became the first African-American female general officer of the United States Air Force. She was born Marcelite Jordan to Cecil O'Neal Jordan and Marcelite Terrill Jordan, Sr.
Education and early career
Marcelite Jordan graduated from Spelman College, earning her B.A. in speech and drama in 1964. She was commissioned through Officer Training School, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas in 1965 and held a variety of assignments in the Air Force. Marcelite Harris’s career included many “firsts”, as she was the first female aircraft maintenance officer, one of the first two female air officers commanding at the United States Air Force Academy, and the Air Force’s first female Director of Maintenance. She served as a White House social aide during the Carter administration. Her service medals and decorations include the Bronze Star, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the Vietnam Service Medal. Harris retired as a major general in 1997, the highest ranking female officer in the Air Force and the Nation’s highest ranking African American woman in the Department of Defense. Upon retirement from the Air Force, Harris served NASA as the Florida Site Director and Logistics Process Owner for United Space Alliance, the company managing the Nation’s Shuttle Program. Besides her Spelman B.A., she holds a B.S. in Business Management from the University of Maryland University College. In 1999, Harris was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Spelman College. Harris is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
Major General Harris is now Treasurer of the Atlanta Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and serves as a Director on the Board of Peachtree Hope Charter School. Also, as of September 15, 2010, General Harris was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as a member of the Board of Visitors for the United States Air Force Academy. The Board inquires into the morale, discipline, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods and other matters relating to the Academy which the Board decides to consider. The Board meets at least four times per year, with at least two of those meetings at the Academy. The Board prepares semi-annual reports containing its views and recommendations pertaining to the Academy. Each written report is submitted concurrently to the Secretary of Defense, through the Secretary of the Air Force, and to the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate and the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives.
Gen. Harris was married to Maurice A. Harris (deceased). They have three adult children; a son, Steven, and daughters, Tenecia and Sherri.
Awards and decorations
|Master Maintenance Badge|
|Legion of Merit with bronze oak leaf cluster|
|Bronze Star Medal|
|Meritorious Service Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters|
|Air Force Commendation Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster|
|Presidential Unit Citation|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor device; silver, and two bronze oak leaf clusters|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Second ribbon required for proper spacing of accoutrements|
|Air Force Organizational Excellence Award with bronze oak leaf cluster|
|Campaign and service medals|
|National Defense Service Medal with bronze Service star|
|Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze campaign stars|
|Service, training, and marksmanship awards|
|Air Force Overseas Short Tour Service Ribbon|
|Air Force Overseas Long Tour Service Ribbon with bronze oak leaf cluster|
|Air Force Longevity Service Award with silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters|
|Air Force Training Ribbon|
|Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Award|
|Vietnam Campaign Medal|
- 1990 - Woman of the Year, National Organization of Tuskegee Airmen, also listed in "Who's Who Among Black Americans", "Who's Who in America and "Who's Who Among American Business Women"
- 1990 - Outstanding Young Woman of America
- 1991 - Most Prestigious Individual, Dollars and Sense Magazine
- 1992 - Woman of Enterprise, Journal Recording Publishing Co., Oklahoma City
- 1995 - "Women of Distinction" Award, Thomas W. Anthony Chapter, Air Force Association
- 1995 - "Military African American Woman" for contributions to the Department of Defense, National Political Congress of Black Women, Inc.
- 1995 - "Black Woman of Courage," National Federation of Black Women Business Owners
- 1996 - Ellis Island Medal of Honor
- 2010 - "Trailblazer Award," Black Girls Rock Foundation
Effective dates of promotion
|Major General||May 25, 1995|
|Brigadier General||May 1, 1991|
|Colonel||September 1, 1986|
|Lieutenant Colonel||October 1, 1981|
|Major||April 1, 1975|
|Captain||December 21, 1969|
|First Lieutenant||January 21, 1967|
|Second Lieutenant||December 21, 1965|
- "MAJOR GENERAL MARCELITE J. HARRIS". Retrieved May 29, 2016.