Michael E. Ruane of the Washington Post is reporting that Maj. Gen. Alfred K. Flowers, 63, has retired from the U.S. Air Force as the military's longest-serving active-duty general. He is also the longest-tenured active-duty service member in the Air Force, and the longest-serving active-duty African American in the six-decade history of the Defense Department.
For 46 years — from his days as an Air Force warehouseman to Vietnam, where he helped gather the bodies of the dead, and to his current job at the Pentagon, where he is the Air Force budget director — he has wanted nothing else.
"Best decision that I've ever made," he said of signing up at age 17.
Flowers' son, Air Force Lt. Col. Alfred K. Flowers Jr., likened him to the Tuskegee Airmen, the fabled black aviators of World War II, and the 19th-century buffalo soldiers. "This is someone who has truly defined history," he said.
Although the elder Flowers never piloted a plane or fired a missile, he has been responsible, at all levels, for handling money that made those kinds of things possible.
As deputy assistant secretary for budget, Flowers is responsible for much of the creation, care and execution of the Air Force's roughly $119 billion annual budget.
Raised amid scarcity as a child, he said he has been scrupulous with the dollars. "You are entrusted with the taxpayers' money," he said. "I've never taken it lightly."
Congratulations to Maj. Gen. Al Flowers on transcending social and professional boundaries to make history in the U.S. Armed Forces. This type of excellence and dedication is rare and will surely be missed.
Read more at the Washington Post.