Alfred K. Flowers
|Alfred K. Flowers|
Major General Alfred K. Flowers
December 29, 1947|
Jones County, North Carolina, U.S.A.
|Service/||United States Air Force|
|Years of service||1965–2011|
|Commands held||2nd Air Force; Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools|
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal|
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Alfred K. Flowers (born December 29, 1947) 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.
Air Force officer
In 1978, Flowers was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the financial management career field. His first officer assignment was at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. During that three-year tour Flowers served as deputy accounting and finance officer, then accounting and finance officer, and finally as the base’s budget officer. He then went to headquarters Tactical Air Command at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, serving as a command level budget officer for three years.
In July 1985, Flowers was selected for an assignment at Air Force headquarters in The Pentagon. He served three years there, first as a budget officer and then as an executive officer. He attended the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia from July 1989 until January 1990. After graduating from that joint military education program, he was assigned to headquarters Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, as chief of the command’s Budget Operations Division.
In August 1993, Flowers was selected to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, receiving a Master of Science degree from the college in June 1994. This was followed by a budget officer assignment in the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. In December 1996, Flowers was again assigned to headquarters Air Combat Command, where he served as the command’s budget chief. During the assignment, he was promoted to colonel.
In June 1999, Flowers returned to the Pentagon for another tour, this time as director of Budget Programs in the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller. Three years later, he was sent to headquarters Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas as the command’s comptroller. He was then assigned to headquarters United States Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. While at MacDill, he was promoted to brigadier general.
Flowers took command of the Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools in January 2007. He served as the organization's commander until May 2008. During that tour, Flowers was promoted to major general. Flowers was then transferred to Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi where he took command of 2nd Air Force.
In October 2009, he returned to the Pentagon for his final assignment. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget until his retirement on 1 January 2012. During this tour, he was responsible for planning and executing a $119 billion annual budget that financed all Air Force operations including support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Flowers also served on the board of directors for Army and Air Force Exchange Service and the Air Force Aid Society. Prior to his retirement, Flowers was awarded the Order of the Sword, the Air Force enlisted force’s highest honor for officer leadership. Several hundred people attend the Order of the Sword ceremony held at the Pentagon’s Airman Hall.
At the time of his retirement, Flowers was the longest serving active duty member in Air Force history. He was also the longest serving African American in the history of the United States Department of Defense. His retirement ceremony was held at on 16 November 2011 at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington. The Secretary of the Air Force, Michael B. Donley and the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, Jamie M. Morin both attended his retirement ceremony.
The effective date of his retirement was 1 January 2012. After retiring from the Air Force, Flowers and his wife moved to San Antonio, where he works with military and veterans groups as a volunteer and a speaker. He also helped develop an enlisted heritage museum. According to Flowers, when he experiences military withdrawal pains, he visits Lackland Air Force Base to watch 700 new airmen march in their basic training graduation parade.
After retiring from active duty, Flowers served on the board of directors for a number of veteran-related organizations. These included Air Force Aid Society, Lackland Fisher Houses, Lackland Heritage Foundation, and the Fallen Warriors Legacy Scholarship Foundation. Flowers also served as a member of the board of director for the Alamo City Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio, Texas.
In 2017, Flowers wrote and published an autobiography entitled Reflections of a Servant Leader. It highlights his life challenges as well as his forty-six years of military service. The book also includes his thoughts on service, integrity, and leadership.
- 1975 Bachelor of Science degree, Southern Illinois University
- 1976 Master of Arts degree, Ball State University
- 1980 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
- 1985 Professional Military Comptroller School, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
- 1988 Air Command and Staff College, by correspondence
- 1990 Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia
- 1993 Air War College (by on-site seminar)
- 1994 Master of Science degree, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC
- 2002 Advanced Management Program, Federal Executive Institute, Charlottesville, Virginia
- 2005 Executive Business Course, Monterey, California
- 2006 National Security Leadership Course, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, New York
- 2007 Program for Executives in Logistics and Technology, Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- August 1965 - August 1967, supply warehouseman, Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota
- January 1968 - January 1969, air transportation specialist, Da Nang AB, Vietnam
- January 1969 - November 1969, air transportation specialist, Norton AFB, California
- November 1969 - May 1971, air transportation specialist, Clark AB, Philippines
- May 1971- June 1972, accounting specialist, Lackland AFB, Texas
- June 1972 - June 1975, accounting specialist, Charleston AFB, South Carolina
- June 1975 - June 1977, accounting specialist, Iraklion AB, Greece
- July 1977 - August 1978, accounting noncommissioned officer, Travis AFB, California
- August 1978 - December 1978, officer training school, Medina Annex, Lackland AFB, Texas
- January 1979 - May 1982, deputy accounting and finance officer; then accounting and finance officer; and budget officer, 347th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Moody AFB, Georgia
- June 1982 - June 1985, budget staff officer, Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley AFB, Virginia
- July 1985 - September 1987, budget staff officer, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
- October 1987 - June 1989, executive officer, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
- July 1989 - January 1990, student, Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia
- February 1990 - June 1993, Chief, Budget Operations Division, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Langley AFB, Virginia
- August 1993 - June 1994, student, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
- July 1994 - December 1996, Defense Resource Manager, Joint Staff, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
- December 1996 - June 1999, Chief of Budget, Headquarters ACC, Langley AFB, Virginia
- June 1999 - July 2001, Director of Budget Programs, Department of the Air Force, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
- September 2001 - August 2003, Comptroller, Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas
- September 2003 - February 2004, Chief Financial Executive, Center for Force Structure, Resources and Strategic Assessments, Headquarters U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill AFB, Florida
- March 2004 - December 2006, Director, Center for Force Structure, Requirements, Resources and Strategic Assessments (J8), Headquarters USSOCOM, MacDill AFB, Florida
- January 2007 - May 2008, Commander, Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
- May 2008 - September 2009, Commander, 2nd Air Force, Keesler AFB, Mississippi
- October 2009 – January 2012, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, Washington, D.C.
Awards and decorations
Effective dates of promotion
|Major General||November 2, 2007|
|Brigadier General||September 1, 2004|
|Colonel||August 1, 1998|
|Lieutenant Colonel||August 1, 1992|
|Major||December 1, 1988|
|Captain||December 1, 1982|
|First Lieutenant||December 11, 1980|
|Second Lieutenant||December 11, 1978|
- "Long-serving general retires". Military Officer. 10 (2). Military Officers Association of America. February 2012. p. 73. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
- Williams, Richard (Technical Sergeant) , "Longest serving Airman calls it a career", Air Force Public Affairs Agency, United States Air Force, The Pentagon, Washington, District of Columbia, 21 November 2011.
- Hanks, Bryan C., "Major General from Jones County set to retire after 46-year career in Air Force", The Free Press, Freedom Communications, Kinston, North Carolina, 11 November 2011.
- Ruane, Michael E., "Defense Dept.’s longest-serving general and African American retires", The Washington Post, Washington, District of Columbia, 4 November 2011.
- "Major General Alfred K. Flowers"., biographies, United States Air Force Public Affairs Office, United States Air Force, The Pentagon, Washington, District of Columbia, 21 November 2011.
- Byron, David (Senior Master Sergeant), "AETC announces newest Order of the Sword recipient", Air Force Public Affairs Agency, United States Air Force, Washington, District of Columbia, 3 November 2011.
- "DOD's longest-serving general retires after 46 years", Stars and Stripes, Washington, District of Colombia, 4 November 2011.
- Laster, Jill, "Retiring general sought better life in AF", Air Force Times, Gannett Government Media, Springfield, Virginia, 18 November 2011.
- "Biography - Major General Alfred Flowers", 22nd Annual National Character and Leadership Symposium, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 26 February 2015.
- "Board of Trustees", Celebrating 70 years of Airmen Helping Airmen 1942–2012, Air Force Aid Society 2012 Annual Report, Air Force Aid Society, Arlington, Virginia, 2012, p. 4.
- "Board of Director 2014-2015", Fisher House Incorporated, San Antonia, Texas, accessed 12 December 2014.
- 2014-2016 Board of Directors, Alamo City Chamber of Commerce, San Antonio, Texas, accessed 12 December 2014.
- Reflections of a Servant Leader: My Journey as the Longest Serving Airman in U. S. Air Force History, Amazon Services LLC, Amazon.com, Inc, Seattle, Washington, accessed 31 July 2017.
- Flowers, Alfred K., Reflections of a Servant Leader: My Journey as the Longest Serving Airman in U. S. Air Force History, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, San Bernardino, California, 2017; ISBN 978-1547080571.
- "United States Air Force biography "Major general Alfred K. Flowers""..
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