Original Tuskegee airman and fighter pilot, Lieutenant Calvin Spann, passed away on Sunday, September 6 at his home surrounded by his family. He was 90-years old.
Lt. Spann was an original Tuskegee Airman and fighter pilot with the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group. Spann received his wings from the Tuskegee Flight School as a part of the graduating class of 44G, an elite squadron of African-American pilots. As a member of the United States Army Air Corps, he served in Europe during World War II, where he flew 26 combat missions, including a 1,600-mile round trip mission on March 24, 1945 from Ramitelli, Italy to Berlin, Germany to destroy the Daimler-Benz manufacturing plant, according to the Dallas Love Field Frontiers of Flight Museum.
On February 28, 2006, the U.S. Congress approved a bill authorizing President George W. Bush to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Tuskegee Airmen, the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States. The 2012 Hollywood blockbuster movie,Red Tails, was based on the African-American pilots in the Tuskegee training program.
Prior to his death, Lt. Spann was still very active in his community, speaking at schools, churches and organizations about the Tuskegee Airmen experience and how their courage and valor helped them to triumph. During these speeches, he encouraged students to make a commitment to excel in the study of mathematics and science, reminding them that through preparation and perseverance, they can succeed.
Two public memorial services were planned to remember the life of Lt. Calvin Spann. A service in Texas was held on Saturday, September 12th at Covenant Church, 2660 E. Trinity Mills Road, Carrollton, Texas 75006. The viewing was held from 8 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. At 9:45 a.m. there was a 21-gun salute, followed by a military flyover, both of which are military honors. The funeral service began at 10:30 a.m.
Following the service in Texas, American Airlines flew Lt. Spann’s remains and his immediate family to New Jersey, where a final memorial service will be held in his hometown of Rutherford, New Jersey. The final viewing will be held on Monday, September 14 at First Presbyterian Church, 1 E Passaic Ave, Rutherford, NJ 07070 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. The funeral service will begin at 7 p.m. Lt. Spann will be entombed on Tuesday, September 15 at East Ridgelawn Cemetery Mausoleum in Clifton, New Jersey. The processional to the cemetery was at 9 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford, with the interment starting at 10 a.m. There will be military honors during the interment ceremony at East Ridgelawn.
Many dignitaries are expected to attend and pay their final respects to Lt. Spann. The public is invited to attend the viewings and funeral services in both states. Lt. Spann’s legacy will continue to thrive in the countless lives he touched around the world. The family asks for prayers during this difficult time. In lieu of floral arrangements, the family is requesting donations to a Go Fund Me account set up to help with Lt. Spann’s final arrangements and medical expenses.