Rita Bly Aragon


Rita Bly Aragon, Photograph. Courtesy Oklahoma Hall of Fame Archives. 

Profession: Air Force Major General & Educator

Hometown: Dale

Inducted: 2016

Rita Bly Aragon received her education at the University of Central Oklahoma and went on to teach in the Oklahoma City Public School System. After teaching kindergarten through second grade and becoming an administrator, she joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard in 1979 to provide extra support for her family. Since then, she has become one of the nation's most remarkable military leaders, ultimately becoming a two-star Major General of the Oklahoma Air National Guard.

Rita Bly Aragon's military career was defined by her pioneer spirit and perseverance as she rose the ranks of leadership and paved a way for women in service. Upon enlisting in 1979, Aragon was the only female draftsman in her squadron. After being commissioned for the Academy of Military Science and later serving in the 1991 Gulf War, the military came to value her unique perspective as a woman. Aragon became the first female commander for the U.S. Air National Guard, a position she held while working as an elementary school principal. After 24 years as a public-school educator, Aragon retired from education to work full time in the military. Her dedication and pioneering spirit eventually led her to become the first female Brigadier General in the Oklahoma Air National Guard. Following retirement as a two-star Major General, Aragon was appointed by former Governor Mary Fallin as the first female Oklahoma Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

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