November 8, 2011 at 3:55am
FROM THE VIRGINIA PILOT...
When Al Flowers was born, his grandmother brought him home in a shoe box and sat all night by the wood stove to keep him warm.
When he was 10, he went to the tobacco fields with the adults, "cropping" leaves by hand and dumping them in a cart drawn by two gray mules.
He lived in a tin-roof house with no running water and bathed in a No. 10 washtub.
Coming of age, he thought: There must be something more.
This month, Maj. Gen. Alfred K. Flowers, 63, retires from the Air Force as the military's longest-serving active-duty general.
He is also the longest-tenured active-duty service member in the Air Force, and the longest-serving active-duty African American in the six-decade history of the Defense Department.
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