Major General LaRita Aragon (ret) was born in 1948 in Shawnee, Oklahoma and grew up in Dale, Oklahoma. After graduating from Dale High School, she attended Evangel College, earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Central State College (now University Central Oklahoma) and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Central State College. She taught at Colbertson, Van Buren, and Longfellow elementary schools. She was named Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year in 1990 and Oklahoma City Principal of the Year in 1992.
In 1979, as a single mother of two daughters as well as school principal, Major General Aragon joined the Air National Guard as an Airman Basic in the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron in Oklahoma City. She was commissioned through the Academy of Military Science in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1981 and rose through the ranks, retiring December 3, 2007 as Major General. She became the first female commander of the Oklahoma Air National Guard when she assumed command of the 137th Air Refueling Wing at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, as well as the first female to command any state National Guard. She was also the first woman to hold the rank of Brigadier General in the Oklahoma National Guard, which she obtained in March 2003 as Assistant Adjutant General for the Oklahoma Air National Guard. She was named Major General in November 2005.
Major General Aragon was the Military Mortuary Officer helping many Oklahoma families after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, and she served in many other command positions. She served on two different assignments at the Pentagon, first as Air National Guard Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, and later as Air National Guard Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff of Manpower and Personnel. Retired Major General Aragon has received the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, along with many other military and civic honors.
After she retired from the military, she returned to education, where she served as Director of Advanced Programs at the OU College of Continuing Education. In January 2011 she was appointed Oklahoma Secretary of Veterans Affairs by Governor Mary Fallin, making her the first woman to serve in this position.
(Bio current as of 2011)