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Maj. Gen. Lucius Theus, USAF, Retired

Lucius Theus


Maj. Gen. Lucius Theus was born on October 11, 1922 in Madison County, Tennessee. His 36 year Air Force career was dedicated to upgrading military administrative operations, improving human and race relations in the Armed Forces, and encouraging young people to pursue careers in aviation.

His tour of duty began in World War II as a private in the Army Air Corps. It included stops in Tuskegee, Germany, France, Greece, and Vietnam, and led him to command of the Air Force Accounting and Finance Center and an Assistant Directorship of the Defense Security Assistance Agency.

He spent much of his military career developing and implementing administrative systems to improve the life of the average airman and soldier. Programs such as direct deposit for military payrolls and better human relations are prime examples. While assigned to the Pentagon, he chaired the inter-service task force where his recommendations led to a Department of Defense-wide race relations education and policy development, and establishment of the forerunner to the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute. He retired from the Air Force in 1979.
Gen. Theus was the first African American support officer and the third overall to be appointed general in the U.S. Air Force. He was also the first African American to attend Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program.

He is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star. He was inducted into the Enlisted Men's Hall of Fame in 1995. The Major General Lucius Theus Auditorium at Patrick Air Force Base was dedicated in his honor in 1996.

Gen. Lucius Theus was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 19, 1996 for his long and illustrious Air Force administrative career, his unwavering attention to race and human relations in the Armed Services, and his dedication to the nation's young people.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program