Air Force Grants ‘Honorable’ Discharge To Gay Veteran Forced Out Of Military In 1948

Edward Spires, 91, has just seen his discharge status changed to “honorable” after being dismissed from the U.S. Air Force as “undesirable” in 1948 because of his sexual orientation, reports the Associated Press.

The decision is a response to a lawsuit filed by Spires, who lives in Norwalk, Connecticut, in November. He had served as a chaplain’s assistant, earning the rank of sergeant, in the Air Force from 1946 to 1948, the year he was forced out after an investigation into his sexual orientation.

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The veteran’s attorneys claim Spires was originally denied the discharge upgrade after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2010 because the Air Force said his records had most likely been lost in a fire in 1973.

But as of last Friday, the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records had informed Spires that the honorable discharge had been approved by the Air Force Review Boards Agency.

According to his attorneys, Spires is in poor health and would like a military funeral, which the upgrade now makes possible.

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“The idea that this man of faith who served dutifully as a chaplain’s assistant in the armed forces, who built a life and a career that has brought joy to those around him, would leave this earth considered undesirable in the eyes of his country, it’s unthinkable,” said David Rosenberg, Spires’ husband, during a briefing on the case at the Yale Law School in November.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who also championed Spires’ case, said yesterday that the Air Force’s decision “corrects an incredible injustice.”