Retired April 1, 1990.
Lieutenant General Spence M. Armstrong is vice commander of Air Force Systems Command with headquarters at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
General Armstrong was born in Columbia, Tenn., in 1934 and graduated from Hay Long High School in 1951. After attending Vanderbilt University for one year, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated in 1956 as a distinguished graduate and earned a bachelor of science degree. He received a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering and a master of science degree in instrumentation engineering, both from the University of Michigan in 1963. He completed Air War College in 1972, the Advanced Management Program at Columbia University in 1976 and the Senior Managers in Government Program at Harvard University in 1978.
The general received his commission upon graduation from the Naval Academy and was awarded his pilot wings at Greenville Air Force Base, Miss., in 1957. General Armstrong then attended F-86 gunnery school at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz., and F-100 gunnery school at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. His first operational assignment was with the 356th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, S.C., from April 1958 to July 1961.
After two years in graduate engineering school at the University of Michigan, he served as a guidance and control engineer at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., from September 1963 to August 1964. General Armstrong then attended the Aerospace Research Pilot School (now the Test Pilot School) at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and, after graduation in September 1965, returned to Holloman Air Force Base as the F-106 test project officer. In August 1967 he completed F-105 combat crew training at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. He then was assigned to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, as a flight commander and, later, operations officer with the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron. While there he accumulated 283 combat hours, including 100 missions over North Vietnam, in F-105s.
When he returned from Southeast Asia in July 1968, he became an instructor and, later, deputy commandant at the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base. He remained there until August 1971, when he entered the Air War College. In May 1972, after graduating from the Air War College, General Armstrong served as senior Air Force representative at the Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga. In February 1973 he transferred to the 12th Flying Training Wing, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, as base commander and later served as deputy commander for logistics.
From July 1974 to July 1976 he served as commander of the 80th Flying Training Wing at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, and then returned to Randolph as assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, Headquarters Air Training Command. General Armstrong was assigned as director for program integration in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development and Acquisition, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., in April 1978. In October 1978 the general became deputy director of space systems and command, control and communications.
General Armstrong was assigned to Air Training Command headquarters, Randolph Air Force Base, from August 1980 to July 1981 as deputy chief of staff for technical training. He then became commander of the Air Force Military Training Center, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. In August 1983 he became chief of the joint U.S. Military Training Mission, Saudi Arabia, and the senior defense representative in the kingdom. He became vice commander in chief, Military Airlift Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., in August 1985. He assumed his present position in July 1987.
The general is a command pilot with more than 4,500 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 14 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with "V" device and two oak leaf clusters, Combat Readiness Medal, National Defense Service Medal with service star, Vietnam Service Medal with three service stars, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Short, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Long, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with six oak leaf clusters, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and Saudi Arabian King Abdulaziz Badge, Second Grade. He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Akron in May 1987.
He was promoted to lieutenant general Aug. 28, 1985, with same date of rank.