”Spanky” Roberts

Col. George S. "Spanky" Roberts

Col. George S. “Spanky” Roberts

  • Born in London, West Virginia, September 24, 1918.
  • Elementary and high school in Fairmont, W.Va., graduating in 1934 at age 15.
  • Graduated from W. Va. State College at age 18 with a BS Degree in Mechanic Arts in 1938. He began CPT training in 1939 at W. Va. State.
  • Entered military service as first Negro Aviation Cadet in July, 1941. Graduated in first class of five Cadets, March 7, 1942.
  • Commissioned 2nd Lt., pilot and married Edith McMillan on March 7, 1942 at Tuskegee Air Field, Alabama.
  • Duty as Flight Instructor in Advanced Flight Training School.
  • Appointed Commander of the 99th Fighter Squadron, June 1, 1942.
  • Entered combat in North Africa in May, 1943.
  • Became Deputy Commander of the 332nd Fighter Group, later Commander.
  • Ended World War II with more than 100 missions against the enemy in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Returned to US in 1945.
  • Following the war, became the senior Air Corps ROTC instructor at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. Later became the Dean of the School of Military Science. The George S. Roberts Squadron, Arnold Air Society, was named in his honor in 1950.
  • In 1950, reported to Langley Air Force Base as the first Black to command a racially mixed unit in the Air Force.
  • Was assigned to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas as a student in the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, graduating in 1952 with a Masters’ Degree. Promoted to Colonel, June, 1952
  • Qualified in jets after Ft. Leavenworth and reported to Korea in 1953 as full Colonel, commanding the 51st Air Base Group.
  • Reported to Chanute AFB, Illinois in January, 1954, as Commander of the Maintenance and Supply Group and simultaneously serving as Base Director of Materiel.
  • In 1960, reported to the 313th Air Division on Okinawa as Director of Materiel. This assignment, in addition to the responsibility for all maintenance, supply, transportation and logistics functions for all Air Force units, also included the livelihood of 800,000 Okinawans as a side issue.
  • In 1963, reported to the Air Force Logistics Command at Griffis AFB, Rome, New York. Responsible for all ground radar in the USAF. This included BMEWS (Ballistic Missile Early Warning System), the DEW line, the continental U.S. flight radar and the radar controlling the Berlin Air Corridors.
  • Cadet George S. Roberts

    Cadet George S. Roberts

  • In 1965, assigned to McClellan AFB, Sacramento, California to assume responsibility for the Freedom Fighter (F-104) for the entire Free World. Just prior to retirement, served as Deputy for Logistics for most of the fighters in Viet Nam, USAF Space Missiles and overall logistics for the Pacific Ocean area.
  • Retired in 1968 from McClellan AFB. Decorations include the Air Force Commendation Medal with four Oak Leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Presidential Unit Citations. Was a Command Pilot with more than 6000 hours.
  • Following retirement became affiliated with Wells Fargo Bank in Sacramento, California. Served as Credit Officer, Training Officer for the Valley Division and retired as a Personal Banking Officer in 1982.
  • After retirement from the bank, Col. Roberts served on numerous boards and committees in the community of Sacramento, California. He was an Elder in St. Stephens Presbyterian Church, served on various committees within the Sacramento Presbytery and worked closely with the Meals A La Car, a community organization providing hot meals to the elderly and homebound and the “Hipsters,” a support group for those who have hip replacements. He was a co-founder.
  • Col. Roberts died on March 8, 1984 of a heart attack in Sacramento, CA. He is survived by his wife Edith, one son, three daughters, two granddaughters, four grandsons and three great-granddaughters, all in the Sacramento area.
  • In 1984, the Sacramento Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. was renamed the GEORGE S. “SPANKY” ROBERTS Chapter in his memory.
  • In 1985, McClellan AFB honored him by renaming one of the Base streets ROBERTS AVENUE.
  • In 1986, Chanute AFB, Illinois also honored Col. Roberts by dedicating a new dormitory in his name. ROBERTS HALL has the capacity to house a thousand students.
  • Col. Roberts was a Mason and a Life Member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity (1935).
  • In July, 1999 a memorial bridge was dedicated and named the GEO. S. “SPANKY” ROBERTS MEMORIAL BRIDGE in Fairmont, W.Va.
  • On December 17, 2004, the First Flight Society inducted the Tuskegee Airmen into their Hall of Fame by unveiling a portrait of Col. Roberts and Gen. B.O. Davis, Jr.
  • January 1, 2010 – ROSE BOWL PARADE – One of eight picture panels featured on the West Covina Rose Bowl Float entitled, “Tuskegee Airmen – A Cut Above.”
  • George Roberts Bridge
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