NORMAN — Maj. Gen. Irene Trowell-Harris, retired, was born in Aiken, S.C.
As a child, Trowell-Harris and her 10 siblings picked cotton to help their parents maintain the farm. While picking cotton, she observed a plane fly overhead one day and told her siblings she would someday fly and work on an airplane.
Trowell-Harris’ siblings laughed at the absurdity of a black girl in America dreaming what seemed like such an impossible dream at that time.
When she pursued a degree in nursing, her church raised money in nickels and dimes to pay her tuition.
Trowell-Harris went on to honorably serve 38 years in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard, retiring as a major general. She was the first African-American woman in the history of the National Guard to be promoted to general officer.
Now Dr.Trowell-Harris, director of the Center for Women Veterans, Washington, D.C., will be one of the guests of honor this year at the 28th anniversary of the Oklahoma Women Veterans Recognition Day.
Each year the group celebrates the women who served this nation. Some of the most notable of those veterans will be recognized by their peers within the Sooner state at the event on Saturday.
On Nov. 17, women veterans from across Oklahoma will gather at the Embassy Suites Norman to socialize and pay homage.
In addition to Trowell-Harris, guests of honor this year include:
· Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Angela Salinas, director of Manpower Management Division, HQMC
· Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, retired, president of the Women’s Memorial Foundation in Washington, DC.
The Department of Veterans Affairs sponsors an Oklahoma Women Veterans Recognition Day annually.
“Gov. Mary Fallin has proclaimed Saturday, 17 November 2012 as our special day this year,” according to an invitation to the event. “Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Rita Aragon, currently serving as Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs of Oklahoma, will be welcoming all military women, past and present, to this special event.”
Co-chairs for the program are retired Sgt. Maj. Pam Bloustine, U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and retired Master Sgt. Phyllis Dorough-Barker, U.S.Army Reserve - Active Guard Reserve.
Women veterans will begin gathering for fellowship on Friday evening before the event with a special hospitality fellowship scheduled for 6-9 p.m., also at the Embassy Suites.