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Maj. Gen. Alfred Flowers

Major General Alfred K. Flowers was born on December 29, 1947 in Kinston, North Carolina to Annie Miller, a chef and Monroe Flowers, an industrial worker. He was raised by his grandparents who instilled in him a foundation of morals, ethical values and integrity. Flowers graduated from Jones High School in 1965 and enlisted in the United States Air Force at the age of seventeen.

After completing basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in San Antonio, Texas, Flowers was assigned as a supply warehouseman at Grand Forks AFB in North Dakota. In 1967, he served as an air transportation specialist in Da Nang AB, Vietnam. Two years later, Flowers was reassigned to Norton AFB in California, where he met his wife, Ida, who was also serving in the Air Force. After they married, she was transferred to Clark AFB in the Philippines and Flowers secured a joint-spousal assignment to be with her. In 1971, he was appointed to accounting specialist and served seven years in this position. Flowers received his A.A. degree from Thomas Edison University and his B.S. degree from Southern Illinois University. He earned his M.A. degree in 1976 from Ball State University. In 1978, he attended officer training school at the Medina Annex, Lackland AFB and was then commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. He served as a budget officer at several Air Force bases before receiving his M.S. degree from Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1994. Flowers served as Chief of Budget at Headquarters ACC on Langley AFB and in1999, he served as director of Budget Programs for the Department of the Air Force. Flowers served as commander of the Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools at Air University on Maxwell AFB and commander of the Second Air Force on Keesler AFB. In 2009, he was appointed as the deputy assistant secretary of budget in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller in Washington, D.C. In 2012, after forty-six years of service, Flowers retired from the United States Air Force, 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.

Throughout Flowers’ long career with the United States Air Force, he received much recognition including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. Flowers served on the board of directors for the Army Air Force Exchange Service, the Air Force Aid Society and the Air Force Services Agency. Major General (R) Flowers was inducted into the Air Education And Training Command Order of The Sword on April 6, 2012, making him the 244th Air Force inductee since 1967. Flowers is married to Ida M. Flowers and they have one son, Lieutenant Colonel Alfred K. Flowers, Jr.

Alfred K. Flowers was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 28, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.148

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/28/2012

Last Name

Flowers

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

K.

Occupation
Schools

Phillips Crossroad Elementary School

Jones High School

Thomas Edison University

Southern Illinois University

Ball State University

National Defense College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Alfred

Birth City, State, Country

Kinston

HM ID

FLO02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chateau Elan North of Atlanta, Georgia

Favorite Quote

It is all about attitude.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

12/29/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

San Antonio

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Major general Maj. Gen. Alfred Flowers (1947 - ) served forty-six years in the United States Air Force and was the longest-serving airman in Air Force history when he retired in 2012.

Employment

United States Air Force

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alfred Flowers' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alfred Flowers lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alfred Flowers describes his mother's family background, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alfred Flowers describes his mother's family background, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alfred Flowers talks about his mother and maternal grandparents, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alfred Flowers talks about his mother and maternal grandparents, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alfred Flowers describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alfred Flowers discusses his parents and half siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alfred Flowers discusses his likeness to his grandparents and visiting his mother's home in North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alfred Flowers describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alfred Flowers describes his earliest childhood memory and recalls the treatment of sharecroppers in North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alfred Flowers describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alfred Flowers describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alfred Flowers discusses the death of his maternal grandfather and his decision to join the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alfred Flowers describes his experience as a sharecropper on the Phillips' farm in North Carolina, pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alfred Flowers describes his experience as a sharecropper on the Phillips' farm in North Carolina pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alfred Flowers describes living on the Phillips' land in North Carolina with his grandparents, pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alfred Flowers describes living on the Phillips' land in North Carolina with his grandparents pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alfred Flowers remarks on his experience in elementary school and attending racially segregated schools

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Alfred Flowers discusses one of his favorite teachers and his early interest in arithmetic and mathematics

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alfred Flowers describes his high school experiences and teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alfred Flowers discusses his extracurricular high school activities and job as a school bus driver

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alfred Flowers discusses his graduation from high school and interest in joining the military

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alfred Flowers talks about attending church as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alfred Flowers discusses his childhood and growing up poor

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alfred Flowers talks about his decision to join the military

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alfred Flowers describes his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alfred Flowers describes working as a supply warehouseman in Grand Forks, North Dakota

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alfred Flowers talks about his duties in air transportation during the Vietnam War

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alfred Flowers discusses the "Tet Offensive" and other aspects of the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alfred Flowers talks about his return to the U.S. and continuing his service with the Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alfred Flowers describes how he met his wife, Ida Hill Flowers

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alfred Flowers discusses being married, while serving in the Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alfred Flowers describes his college education and earning his bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alfred Flowers talks about his son and teaching him the value of a good education

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alfred Flowers describes his experience living and studying in Crete, Greece

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alfred Flowers talks about his admission into the U.S. Air Force's Officer Training School after being rejected three times

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alfred Flowers speaks about the differences between enlisted military and a military officer, and earning his second master's degree

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Alfred Flowers discusses his marriage and military life

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alfred Flowers describes his experience as First Lieutenant at Tactical Air Command Headquarters in Langley, Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alfred Flowers discusses his work at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alfred Flowers recounts his career as a Major in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alfred Flowers describes his return to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama to work for the U.S. Air Force Accession Command

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alfred Flowers talks about serving as the Air Force Budget Director

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alfred Flowers comments on his career accomplishments and his retirement

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alfred Flowers reflects upon his legacy and comments on incidents of misuse of the U.S. Air Force budget

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alfred Flowers shares stories about financial misconduct and budgetary spending

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Alfred Flowers explains his command philosophy and describes how 9/11 impacted communication between the various branches of the government

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alfred Flowers discusses his views on race relations in 21st century America

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alfred Flowers talks about some famous African American military servicemen

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alfred Flowers talks about his family and former classmates

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alfred Flowers talks about his son

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alfred Flowers describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alfred Flowers comments on having respect for the elderly and talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alfred Flowers describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

7$4

DATitle
Alfred Flowers describes living on the Phillips' land in North Carolina with his grandparents, pt.1
Alfred Flowers describes his return to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama to work for the U.S. Air Force Accession Command
Transcript
So, now, did you have--when you were a kid, did you have any carefree time to roam the woods or to do, you know--$$Not very much. You know, I started working like an adult at 10 years old on the farm and going to school. One of the things that my grandparents impressed upon me was that, "You were going to finish high school. We couldn't afford to send you to college, but you were going to finish high school." And I recall, you know, we, my grandparents, when they would get a few dollars, we--I told you, we raised chickens and hogs, and the hogs we used were primarily for the meat. We would kill hogs every year usually in December or January when it got cold. You kill the hogs, and then we had an old smokehouse and, you know, we fry out the fat and made our own grease. It was called lard, and that's what we cooked with and, you know, that's why we all have hypertension. We cook with the lard, and then we would take the meat, and my granddad will cut it up and hang it in the smokehouse, and they would smoke it. So we'd make our own bacon, our own ham, our own sausage, everything. Smoke that stuff, and that's what we would eat on during the year. The chickens that we raised, they would lay eggs, the chickens would. And my grandmother would sell the eggs for fish. That old fish man would come buy twice a week, and she'd sell a dozen of eggs for a dollar and 25 cents, and buy five pounds of fish. It was really bartering; it was trading one good for another. And that's how we got the fish most of the time, except during the summer when my grandfather was selling corn, tobacco, and he'd have a few dollars. Then sometimes he would stop by the fish market on the way back home after a sale and buy five pounds of fish for a dollar and a half or whatever the type of fish cost. But most of the things that we ate we grew ourselves in the garden or our hogs or chickens. Occasionally, we go hunting or somebody would kill rabbits or catch rabbits and we'd have rabbit. You'd go fishing with a net called "shadding" during the spring, and we'd catch shad, and that would be a delicacy because shad, the eggs in the female shad were called roes. They called them roses (sic). Actually, it was caviar and we didn't know it (laughs). So, we had caviar early in life and weren't smart enough to know that we were eating fish eggs. I thought it was great. But that was another means of survival with fish. When we couldn't afford to buy it, we'd try to catch it. But, it's--.$Then I got an opportunity unlike any financial guy could ever expect. I got the opportunity to go to Maxwell in Command, the Accession Command, Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools, which I had the Officer Training School, which I had been a member of in 1978. It was now moved to Maxwell Air Force Base, though I had the Officer Training School, had all of Air Force R.O.T.C. across the country, 144 colleges and universities where we had R.O.T.C. and 980 or so crosstown schools that fed into those 144 primary schools for R.O.T.C., and 869 high schools where we had Junior R.O.T.C. in the U.S. and 14 overseas, with a total of student population of about 115,000 high school students in Junior R.O.T.C. The opportunity to command that and impact the officer force that we were bringing into the Air Force, about 530 a year out of O.T.S., and about 1100 from R.O.T.C. that we were bringing in officers each year; and then that 115,000 students that we were teaching how to be citizens in a great citizenship program in Junior R.O.T.C. It was just awesome. I don't--I think that's probably one of the jobs that I've had, one of the opportunities to impact the most lives across the country of young adults and young folks in high school, that our objective was to make them better citizens as they grew up to become adults. It was just an awesome responsibility, and one that I will cherish all my life.$$Did that for about a year and a half, and then I got the opportunity to go command the Second Air Force. And I am the first financial person in the history of our finance community to command a numbered Air Force. No one else in the controller community has ever commanded a numbered Air Force. To go command Second Air Force, Second Air Force was all of the training, technical, nontechnical, all that; the R.O.T.C. and all that stuff. If it was training other than Pilot Training, it fell under Second Air Force to include Basic Training where I started. So I had the opportunity to back to Lackland Air Force Base frequently and observe and to tweak as we needed to; Basic Training, all of the Technical Training other than Pilot Training, to include Space and Missile Training for the Air Force. We ran about 40,000 a day on Lackland Air Force Base, and some 2,500 courses a year that we taught Technical Training around the world as the Second Air Force Commander, another awesome responsibility.$$That's when you were in Mississippi, right?$$That's when I was in Mississippi, the Headquarters of the Second Air Force.$$This was in 2008--starts with 2008?$$Yes, sir. From 2008. May of 2008 to September of 2009.