Father, son promote African American History Month

by Airman Alexandria Mosness
435th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

A 30-year-old wooden name plate might not mean a lot to many

people, but to one Airman, the carved wood with the engraved words “Lt. Al Flowers” is priceless because it was given to him by his father when he was a lieutenant.

Maj. Gen. Alfred Flowers, 2nd Air Force commander at Kessler Air Force Base, Miss., and Lt. Col. Alfred Flowers Jr., 435th Medical Support Squadron commander, are a rare breed of Air Force African American father-son duos – made even more unique by their rank.

“I am extremely proud to come from such great lineage. We are just like a regular father and son doing our everyday jobs,” Colonel Flowers said. “I never thought we would be in the situation we are in today. My dad would always talk about attention to detail and to do your best, and the rest will follow.”

With the mentorship of his parents, Colonel Flowers did not feel pressure to join the Air Force, even though it seemed to be the family job. It actually came as a surprise when they realized he wanted to join the ranks of the Air Force.

After getting his master’s degree in hospital administration, Colonel Flowers called his parents one day and said, “Why don’t you come on down to the Air Force recruiter and enlist me in the military.”

Though it came as a shock to his parents, he knew he wanted to be part of the family gig.

“I wanted to be part of a bigger cause, be a leader in the profession of arms and pursue servanthood,” he added.

With his father as a senior leader and his mother a former military training instructor, life was interesting as an only child.

“I got a lot of good mentorship. Just like any other kid, there were highs and lows,” the medical commander said. “My parents were always there to dust me off, pick me up and tell me that I can do anything I set my sights on.”

General Flowers is not only part of one of the few African American father-son teams, but he is also one of the few officers with the length of service he has on active duty. He was prior enlisted for 13 years and went to officer school as a master sergeant, Colonel Flowers said.

The leadership he grasped as a non-commissioned officer not only made General Flowers into who he is today, but also paved the way for his son.

“His earlier roots and upbringing in the enlisted ranks rubbed off on me,” the colonel said. “I’ve never had the fortune of serving as an enlisted member, but I think it would have made me a better officer in the long run.”

As they look back, neither father nor son would have thought they would be where they are today.

“I feel very fortunate and blessed to be serving on active duty with my father,” Colonel Flowers said. “It’s a very rare thing, but we don’t take it for granted.”

Even though his son is a grown man, the general still imparts advice to him.

“Do your best every day, maintain a positive attitude and always remember it is not about him. We are all servants,” General Flowers said.

As part of African American History month, both father and son have speaking engagements planned. General Flowers is scheduled to give speeches throughout Air Education and Training Command, while Colonel Flowers recently spoke at the KMC luncheon at the Ramstein Officers’ Club Jan. 30.

“As a people, our quest with citizenship has been intertwined with our struggles. Today, we celebrate (those) achievements and struggles to kick off Black History Month,” Colonel Flowers said at the luncheon.

For both to hold such high titles, it is not hard to imagine they both would speak at some point during the month.

“I think I am a role model for African Americans, but I believe all Airmen are role models,” Colonel Flowers said. “There is only one color in my mind – blue. We can really leave a legacy for others to inspire to.”

While it is an honor to speak on behalf of their African American heritage, both General and Colonel Flowers know they are an inspiration for all Airmen.

“As a general officer, my responsibility is to be a role model for all,” the general said. “It is an honor to serve with all of you and always remember service is what we do.”

For those in attendance at the luncheon on Ramstein, it was a memorable experience to have everyone come together to celebrate the month’s heritage.

“For all of us to join together to celebrate (African American History Month) is truly a great feeling,” said Airman 1st Class Marissa Joseph, 435th Services Squadron food service apprentice. “This allows not only the black community to become stronger, but makes the Air Force stronger as a whole. It is nice to be able to relish in the history of our people and to live for a better tomorrow.”

As for the wooden name plate, the colonel hopes to pass it on to one of his sons one day and keep the hardware in the family – not only passing down a treasured piece of family history, but also a part of African American