Military Women’s Memorial President Emeritus

BG (R) Wilma L. Vaught

Air Force Brigadier General (Retired) Wilma L. Vaught is President Emeritus of the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc.—stepping down as President on Jan. 1, 2016, after 29 years in the position. Her last military assignment was as Commander, U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command, North Chicago, Ill., where she served from June 1982 until her retirement in August 1985. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of the National Women’s History Museum and served on the Virginia War Memorial Foundation Board of Trustees. Following retirement, she worked as a consultant with the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization.

A native of Illinois, General Vaught earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana where she received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 1983; a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Alabama, an Honorary Doctor of Public Affairs from Columbia College, SC; and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the National Graduate School. She is the first Air Force woman graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. 

During her military career, she held various positions in the comptroller field at Barksdale AFB, La.; Zaragoza AFB, Spain; McCoy AFB, Orlando, Fla.; HQ, Military Assistance Command, Saigon, Vietnam; USAF Logistics Command, Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio; the Air Staff, The Pentagon; and she was the Deputy Chief of Staff, Comptroller at USAF Systems Command, Andrews AFB, Md. General Vaught served as Chairperson of the NATO Women in the Allied Forces Committee from 1983 to 1985 and was the senior woman military representative to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services from 1982 to 1985. Her numerous military decorations and awards include both the Defense and Air Force Distinguished Service Medals, Air Force Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Vietnam Service Medal with four service stars, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. 



  • One of the most-decorated military women in US history at the time of her retirement 
  • Recipient of the Woman Who Made A Difference Award — International Women’s Forum, October 1985 
  • First and, for some 22 years, the only woman promoted to brigadier general from the Comptroller career field 
  • First woman to head a board of directors of a major credit union 
  • First woman to command a unit receiving the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the nation’s highest peacetime unit award, July 1985 
  • First woman to deploy with a Strategic Air Command bombardment wing on an operational deployment, 1966-67 
  • Listed in Who’s Who in America 
  • 1998 Living Legacy Patriot Award, Women’s International Center 
  • 1998 Medal of Honor, National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution 
  • 1998 Veteran Advocate of the Year, National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs 
  • 1998 Women of Distinction Award, National Association of Women in Education 
  • 1998 VFW James E. Van Zandt Citizenship Award 
  • 2000 Air Force Women Officer Associated, Pioneer Award 
  • 2000 Margaret Cochran Corbin Award, National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution 
  • 2000 National Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee 
  • 2003 National Women’s History Project National Women’s History Month Honoree 
  • 2003 Legion of Honor Bronze Medallion Award, The Chapel of Four Chaplains 
  • 2006 National Organization for Women (NOW) Intrepid Award 
  • 2007 US Air Force Woman of Distinction Merit Award 
  • 2008 General Federation of Women’s Clubs Women’s History Month Honoree 
  • 2010 US Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame Inductee 
  • 2012 USAF Brigadier General Wilma Vaught Visionary Leadership Award 
  • 2012 Sea Services Leadership Association North Star Lifetime Achievement Award 
  • 2013 White House Champion of Change Honoree 
  • President General’s Medallion Award, National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution 
  • 20132015 Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught Military Women Service Scholarship established by the National Graduate School
  • 2022 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient
  • 2022 Air & Space Force Association Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2022 National Defense University Alumni Hall of Fame Honoree