Brigadier General Wilma Vaught USAF (Ret.)
March 15, 1930

Wilma was born March 15, 1930, the oldest of two daughters in Scottland, Illinois. Wilma was named for her father, Willard, and her mother, Margaret. Wilma's parents had not gone to college, but they worked long hours to make sure their daughter would have a chance to attend college. Growing up on a farm helped Wilma appreciate the value of hard, honest work.

Wilma graduated from the University of Illinois in 1957 and started work in the corporate world. Wilma wanted to be a manager or supervisor, but did not see many opportunities in the world of business. She decided to join the Air Force in the hope that she would be given more opportunities for career growth. Wilma was not disappointed with her career choice. The military gave her many opportunities to broaden her education and she enjoyed working with people who were dedicated and hard working.

Wilma joined the Air Force at a time in history when women in the service were given more and more opportunities for career growth. In 1967 President Johnson signed a law that permitted service women to be promoted to the level of generals and admirals. Wilma worked hard on her job and attended military classes. In 1980 she was the first woman in her career field to be promoted to Brigadier General. In 1982, she commanded one of the biggest areas in the military. By the time she retired in 1985, she was one of only three female generals in the Air Force and one of seven female generals in the United States Armed Forces all together. During her military career she earned many medals and awards. She also established the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. On October 16, 1997, the Women's Memorial, which stands at the main gateway to Arlington National Cemetery, was dedicated to honor the courage and bravery of thousands of American women like Brigadier General Wilma Vaught.

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