GREENVILLE—Though the United States military had a long history of accepting black servicemen into its ranks, the U.S Army Air Corps, with strict racial segregation polices in practice, had largely denied fair opportunities to men of color, which prevented African Americans from pursuing careers as military aviators. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which barred government agencies and federal contractors from refusing employment in industries engaged in defense production on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin. The order required the armed services, including the U.S Army Air Corps, to recruit and enlist African Americans.
Receiving training at the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Included in the ranks of the Tuskegee Airmen was Cecil Spicer, one of five brothers from Longtown, Ohio, serving in the military. Shortly after his high-school graduation, Spicer enlisted in the Army in September 1944 and began a career of military service that would last 25 years. After graduating with the class of 1945 from the Tuskegee Army Airfield Training School in Alabama, Cecil Spicer was tapped for the flight engineer technician’s school at the Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois. The skill, aptitude, and success of the Tuskegee Airmen became legendary as they flew in over 15,000 individual sorties and earned more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses. Spicer served in WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He earned two Bronze Stars, the WWII Victory Medal, a Good Conduct Ribbon, and achieved the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.
The Garst Museum’s program “Air, Land, and Sea—Brothers by Blood and in Arms” shares the extraordinary story of the five Spicer brothers from Longtown, Ohio, who chose different paths to serve their country during culturally discriminatory times. Exhibit artifacts detailing the Spicer brothers—Cecil, US Army Air Corps; Dewey, US Navy; Edward, US Army; Roy, US Army; Russell, US Marine Corps—and their contributions will be unveiled during the program
Join us for this Veterans Day program at the Garst Museum on November 12, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. The program is free to attend, and light refreshments will be served. Regular admission will apply to tour the museum. Funding for this program was made possible by the Harry D. Stephens Memorial Foundation.