By: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
WASHINGTON D.C — Times have changed since 1948! The story of H. Edward Spires is truly a heart inspired one that every member of the LGBTQ community should feel. The 91 year-old finally, after 68 years, received an “undesirable” discharge from the Air Force for being gay.
Friday Jan. 6, the 91-year-old H. Edward Spires from Norwalk, Connecticut, finally got the “honorable” discharge status he was denied 68 years ago simply over his sexual orientation.
“My first thought was, ‘It’s about time,” Spires told the Hartford Courant. “I can lift my head again.”
Why the cnage after 68 years? It is because of the result of a federal lawsuit Spires and a group of lawyers at the Yale Veterans Legal Services Clinic, had filed against the Air Force in November 2016.
“In 1946 Spires enlisted in the Air Force at the age of 20. He was assigned to be a chaplain’s assistant at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. A little over a year later, he was promoted from private to sergeant. The entire time, Spires kept his sexual orientation a secret.
Spires’ military career became jeopardized in October 1947, when the base’s commander announced a plan to “clean up the base of homosexuals,” according to a complaint filed in federal court.
That Halloween Spires attended an off-base costume party in which he dressed up as “That New Oxydol Sparkle,” a nod to a then-popular ad for laundry detergent. Someone at the party recognized him and mistook his eye-catching and sparkly costume for drag.” Elyse Wanshel Associate Editor, Huffpost/QueerVoices
Now after 68 years, Spires was granted an honorable discharge by the Air Force.
With the change in the Air Force status change, Spires, who wishes to have a military funeral is now eligible to have one. It’s a great comfort to the 91-year-old who recently battled a severe case of pneumonia. In fact he told reporters.. “I’m still recovering from pneumonia but every day seems a little brighter,” he told the Hartford Courant. “This is one thing less on my mind … I can smile again.” said Spires.
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