MGen Alfred Flowers, Mgen. USAF (ret.), USAF, 5/24/2014
Listen to MGEN Alfred Flowers: May 24, 2014
Alfred Flowers is a retired United States Air Force Major General who served in many roles, culminating as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget. At the time of his retirement, Flowers had served more than 46 years on active duty, making him the longest-serving airman in Air Force history and the longest serving African American in the history of the United States Department of Defense. Prior to his retirement, the enlisted members of Air Education and Training Command presented Flowers with the Order of the Sword, the Air Force enlisted force’s highest honor for officer leadership.
Flowers was born in Jones County, North Carolina on 29 December 1947. He was raised in rural Jones County near Phillips Crossroads. At the age of ten, he started working in the fields with his grandparents, who were sharecroppers. He graduated from Jones High School in 1965. Flowers could not afford to attend college so after graduating, he decided to enlist in the Air Force. Because he was only seventeen, his grandmother had to sign a release allowing him to enlist. Flowers entered the Air Force on 5 August 1965.
After completing basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, Flowers was assigned to duty as a supply warehouseman at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. After two years at Grand Forks, he was retransferred into the air transportation career field and sent to Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. At Da Nang, Flowers was responsible for collecting casualties, hauling wounded and deceased soldiers out of the jungle at night.
When his tour in Vietnam was completed, Flowers was reassigned at Norton Air Force Base, California. While at Norton, he met his wife, who was also serving in the Air Force. Two weeks after they were married, she was transferred to Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Six months later, Flowers secured a join-spouse assignment at Clark. During his tour in the Philippines, Flowers began working toward a college degree. When he returned from his overseas assignment, Flowers was retrained as an accounting specialist and assigned to Lackland Air Force Base and then to Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina.
When he completed his bachelor’s degree in 1975, Flowers applied for Air Force Officer Training School and was accepted. Shortly after his acceptance, his wife (who was still enlisted) was reassigned to Iraklion Air Base in Greece. Because there was no guarantee of a joint assignment after officer training, he gave up his officer training slot and went with his family to Greece. In 1976, Flowers finished his master’s degree and re-applied to the officer training; however, his application was denied. He applied again in 1977 and was denied again. In the meantime, he was reassigned to Travis Air Force Base, California and select for promotion to master sergeant, the Air Force’s third highest enlisted grade. While he was waiting to pin on his new rank, he applied for officer training once again. This time he was accepted.