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Captain Gail Harris fought through racism and sexism in becoming the navy’s first black and female intelligence officer. Not content with being a symbol, Harris took her job seriously, earning the respect of her peers while becoming the highest-ranking black woman in the navy at the point of her 2001 retirement.

Harris was born in East Orange, New Jersey on June 23, 1949. She was inspired to join the service after watching the war film, “wing and a prayer” with her army veteran dad. She graduated from Jersey’s Madison University in 1971 and joined the Navy.

While in officer school, Harris was made a test subject for an intelligence program. In 1976, this after enduring hardships, she made history when she was named an intelligence officer in japan. Three years later, she became the first female and black instructor of the armed forces intelligence training center in Colorado.

Harris’ 2009 book, “a woman’s war,” details her dynamic story.

 

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(Photo Source: Personal website)