Born March 15, 1930, Wilma Vaught earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign before earning a Master of Business Administration from the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa.
In 1957, she joined the Air Force and began Officer’s Basic Military Training Course at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Her first assignment was in the 805th Air Base Group in Louisiana as chief of the data services branch. In April 1959, Vaught traveled to the Zaragoza Air Base in Spain to serve as chief of the management analysis division until 1963.
Throughout her career, Vaught accomplished several “firsts.” In 1966, she became the first woman to deploy with a Strategic Air Command operational unit. She served as chief of the management analysis division, 4133rd Provisional Bombardment Wing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, during Operation: ARC Light. In 1972, Vaught became the first female Air Force officer to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. She stayed to serve in D.C with the directorate of management analysis. In 1980, she became the first woman promoted to brigadier general within the comptroller field.
In 1982, Vaught became commander of the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command, headquartered in Great Lakes, Illinois. During her position, she served as chairperson to the NATO Women in the Allied Forces Committee. She was the senior woman military representative to the Secretary of Defense’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Service. Vaught retired in 1985, as one of only seven women generals in the Armed Forces. Throughout her military service, she received multiple military honors, including a Defense Distinguished Service Medal, a Legion of Merit and a Bronze Star Medal.
After her retirement, Vaught continued to serve military women. She established the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, Inc. Her foundation raised over $20 million to build the first national memorial honoring all women who defended the United States. Today, the memorial stands at the gateway of Arlington National Cemetery.
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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. All it takes is an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Graphic artist: Deanna Cannon