Colonel George “Spanky” Roberts: First Tuskegee Airman From West Virginia

2 Posted by - January 22, 2023 - LATEST POSTS

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

Key Highlights About Colonel George “Spanky” Roberts:

  • First African-American military pilot from West Virginia
  • Member of the famous Tuskegee Airmen during World War II
  • Flew over 100 missions in Africa, Europe & Middle East
  • Trained with the first class of Tuskegee Airmen

Aviator George Spencer ‘‘Spanky’’ Roberts was the first African-American military pilot from West Virginia and a member of the famous Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.

Roberts was born in London, Kanawha County, the son of Spencer and Estella Roberts. He graduated from Fairmont’s Dunbar High School in 1934 and from West Virginia State College (now University) in 1938, with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical arts.

He entered aviation cadet training with the first class of Tuskegee Airmen and became the first African-American military pilot from West Virginia.

Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant & pilot in 1942; Roberts flew over 100 missions in Africa, Europe & Middle East, commanded 99th Fighter Squadron, and 332nd Fighter Group in WWII.

Following the war Roberts became the senior Air Corps ROTC instructor at Tuskegee Institute. He also served in Korea and Okinawa. In 1963, Roberts was assigned to Griffiss Air Force Base where he was responsible for all ground radar in the Air Force. Decorated for meritorious service in WWII, Korea, & 25 year career. Roberts retired with the rank of colonel at McClellan Air Force Base in 1968. His decorations included the Air Force Commendation Medal with four oak clusters and two presidential citations. Colonel George Spencer Roberts died on March 8, 1984.




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  • Lyle May 11, 2019 - 8:47 pm

    Growing up at Chanute AFB ILLINOIS his son delivered newspapers for my mom. He always came out from behind his desk to deliver a hug when we were in his office. He came to our house occasionally. He was quite a gentleman. I am proud to have known him.

    • Leigh Roberts August 1, 2019 - 10:40 am

      Thank you Lyle! It is so nice to know he is remembered fondly. This bio is nice, but very short on detIls of his military service. Kind of seems like he didn’t accomplish much. I’m surprised no one reached out to ask for info. There is so much more.

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