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Honoring Our Heroes

Master Sergeant Waldo Allison Spencer III: Age 90

Master Sergeant Waldo Allison Spencer III (MSgt) served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. His Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) was Flight Facilities Equipment Technician for a major portion of his career. His military service included three temporary assignments in Vietnam. He received the following medals, citations, awards, and decorations: Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star, Vietnam Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

MSgt Spencer was born in Billerica, MA, December 12, 1933 to his parents, Waldo and Ruth Spencer. He was reared at Lowell, MA. He played basketball and baseball during high school and graduated from Lowell Trade High School in 1952.

MSgt Spencer's military career began when he volunteered to serve in the U.S. Air Force July 29,1952. He completed boot camp at Sampson AFB in upstate New York. Upon completion of boot camp, he attended and completed Radio Operator's school at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, MS. His first duty station was at Alexandria Airport in LA where he was assigned to Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron (ACW). From there, he transferred to Otis AFB, MA. to another AC&W Squadron. MSgt Spencer's initial overseas assignment was to a remote AC&W Squadron on Mishima Island in the Sea of Japan. During this time the Korean War Armistice was signed. Following two years at Mishima, he reenlisted for six years. He attended more training at Keesler AFB for a change in AFSC. His new career field was as a Ground Control Approach Radar Repairman. He served at bases located in Knoxville and Nashville, TN, before returning again to Keesler AFB for additional training in a new AFSC, Navigational Aids Technician. He returned to Japan for his second overseas tour. His unit of assignment was the 1st Mobile Communications Group which was a tenant unit at Johnson Air Base near Tokyo. A mobile communications group provides flight services and navigational aids on a temporary basis. The day-to-day mission of a mobile communications group is the maintenance of staff and equipment for deployment. From there, he experienced several TDY assignments to Taiwan in support of nationalist Chinese Air Force units and a TDY to the Philippines and his first TDY to Vietnam in 1960. This TDY was in support of SEATO exercises involving several member nations. After completion of this second two-year tour in Japan, MSgt Spencer returned to the USA to Pope AFB, Fayetteville, North Carolina. In late1962, he was sent to Alaska serving a remote tour of 13 months split between Bethel, Alaska, and Northway, Alaska, and serving with one or two fellow airmen in the maintenance of navigational aids equipment. Bethel is in the remote western part of Alaska and Northway is in the extreme eastern part of Alaska.

Following the assignment in Alaska, he was assigned to the 4th Mobile Communications Group at Hunter AFB, Savannah, GA. In early 1965, he served his second TDY to Vietnam to Ban Ma Thuot in the central highlands, home of the indigenous Montagnards. Upon returning to the CONUS, he attended Senior NCO Academy at Orlando, FL. In 1966 his unit, the 4th Mobile Communications Group, moved to Altus AFB in Oklahoma, and MSgt Spencer married his wife, Betty. Following almost another year of training at Keesler AFB, he was assigned again to the 1st Mobile Communications Group which had been moved to Clark AFB in the Philippines to be closer to Vietnam. Before his two year tour ended, he completed his third TDY assignment in Vietnam. This assignment to Khe Sanh was recognized with a USAF Commendation Medal and recognition by the Vietnamese Government. Upon return to the CONUS, he was assigned Commander of a LORAN site in Biloxi, MS. This site along with other sites was testing the capabilities of the long range navigational aids maintained at the site. MSgt Spencer served in this capacity until his retirement in August 1972.

After retiring from the military, MSgt Spencer used the G.I. Bill to achieve a B.S. Degree in Political Science from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1973 and also a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Alabama in 1974. Following graduation, he worked as Personnel Director for the AL Dept. Of Human Resources for 23 years retiring in 1998

MSgt Spencer and his wife, Betty, have been married 57 years, and they have two children and two grandchildren. They are members of Aldersgate Methodist Church where both have served in many voluntary capacities over the years. They have enjoyed camping in their RV and going on several chartered bus trips visiting beautiful and historic sites in the USA. They served with the Meals on Wheels program for more than 20 years. MSgt Spencer also served as a volunteer with the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) with the Montgomery Police Dept. for 15 years. He has enjoyed playing golf as well as tennis. He attended several Senior Olympics games participating in 10 mile biking time trials, three mile running and tennis. He is a member of the American Legion.

MSgt Spencer's reflections upon what serving in the U.S. military meant to him are: "My father instilled in me the idea of service to country. He served six years in the Marines in WWI and two years in the Navy at the end of WWII. It impacted whom I became as a citizen and as a human being."

 

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