Tuskegee Airman Lt. Calvin Spann discusses the rigorous training at the Tuskegee University Moton Airfield, aerial campaigns during World War II that included traversing the treacherous Alps, and encountering the then-newly-invented German weapon—the jet aircraft. Question and answer period follows lecture.
In 1943, Calvin J. Spann left Rutherford High School to go into the Army Air Corps to start aviation cadet training. Calvin's high school graduation was the next month. His sister Carolyn was there to accept his diploma.
Mr. Spann's orders sent him to Kessler Field, Mississippi; when he arrived he was informed that the Army Air Corps did not train Black cadets. A week later, he was sent to Tuskegee, Alabama for the Cadet training. Calvin Spann received his wings at Tuskegee, graduating in Class 44G.
His next station of duty was Walterboro, South Carolina. There he trained in the P-47 (Thunderbolt) for combat and overseas duty. At the completion of training Lieutenant Spann was sent to Italy as a replacement combat pilot and given an instruction manual to fly the P51 Mustang. He became a member of the 100th Fighter Squadron, a part of the 332nd Fighter Group under the command of Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. Lt. Spann flew 26 combat missions before the end of the war in Europe and terminated his tour of duty in Italy.
After returning to the United States, he was stationed at Lockbourne Army Air Base, Columbus, Ohio. Lt. Spann was separated from active duty here, in 1946. Lt. Spann made several attempts to seek employment with commercial airlines. He was denied a career in the industry just as his comrades he served side by side with due to racial discrimination. Lt. Spann remained in the Air Force Reserves until 1961 when he was honorably discharged.
On February 28, 2006 the United States Congress approved the bill sponsored by Rep. Charles B. Rangel, (Dem.-NY), to honor the Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal and on March 27, 2006, the United States Senate passed legislation, sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin (Dem.-MI), authorizing President Bush to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Tuskegee Airmen. The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the Tuskegee Airmen on March 29, 2007 in the capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C. In May 2006 Spann received the degree, Doctor of Public Service from Tuskegee University, earning the distinguished title of Doctor. Dr. Spann has also been inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in New Jersey and in Texas