WASHINGTON — Original Tuskegee airman Calvin Spann flew 26 combat missions over Nazi Germany.
But after he returned from Europe, he never flew again.
Spann separated from active duty in 1946, but was enlisted in the Air Force Reserves until 1961. But even while keeping contractual obligations of being in the reserves, he was denied the opportunity to maintain his flying hours to keep his pilot’s license.
“Jim Crow was in the north — it was just undercover,” Spann’s wife, Gwenelle Johnson, told students from Charles Drew Model Elementary School in Arlington, Va. during a Black History Month celebration at the Reagan National Airport in Washington. “He would never get a plane to keep up his hours, and he really, really got frustrated.