From Jim Ford.  "Harry Spillers was an early test pilot school grad (1956) and the operations and engineering officer in the C-141A Test Force (not MATS at Scott AFB as the biography says), and one of the Test Directors during the C-5A program."


Willum H. "Harry" Spillers, Jr.

January 12, 1925  -  May 17, 2015

Willum H. “Harry” Spillers, Jr., age 90, passed on to greater things May 17, 2015, at his home in Bryan, TX. General Spillers was born on January 12, 1925, in Macon, GA. He was predeceased by his wife of 54 years, Jennet Pohl Spillers, and his brother, Lt. Col. Robert Spillers, who died in the Vietnam conflict. General Spillers is survived by three children: Dr. Robert I. Spillers, DVM and his wife Kristine; Sgt. Mark R. Spillers, Texas DPS (Ret.) and his wife Vickie; and Jennifer Griem and her husband Steve. Harry also has seven grandchildren: Michael Spillers, Kristina Decker, Cherrie Nass, Mark Jonathan Spillers, Douglas Spillers, Donnie Spillers and Brian Spillers. Additionally, he has two great granddaughters, Tristen Decker and Juniper Jennet Nass.

General Spillers attended The Citadel and Georgia Tech before beginning his 28-year military career in 1944 when he entered the U.S. Army Air Forces aviation cadet program. However, prior to completing the program, he received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in June 1949 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant.

He served in the Korean War as a B-26 bomber pilot and upon returning he earned a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Princeton in 1955. In 1956 he attended and graduated from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and became an instructor on the school staff. He designed the patch for the school that, with minor modifications, is still used today. General Spillers was assigned to the Military Air Transport Service - MATS, at Scott AFB, IL where he became operations and engineering officer for the C-141 Joint Test Force. He was the first Air Force pilot to fly the C-141. This brought MATS from turbo-prop to jet engine transport aircraft. While at Edwards he was involved in the selection of the first astronauts.

At the Pentagon, he was involved in the development of the C-5 aircraft and directed various phases of C-5 testing. He returned to Edwards and then to Charleston, SC during these evaluations. As commander, he set a record with the C-5 as the longest non-stop, non-refueled flight originating in Okinawa, passing over Elmendorf, AK and landing at Charleston.

In April 1975, General Spillers returned to MAC Headquarters to serve as deputy chief of staff for logistics. He retired in 1976 and moved to San Antonio. His military decorations and awards include two Legions of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Air Medals, two Air Force Commendation Medals, a Presidential Unit Citation, three Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, a Good Conduct Medal, an American Campaign Medal, a WW II Victory Medal, two National Defense Medals, two Korean Service Medals, an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, four Vietnam Service Medals, three Air Force Longevity Awards, a Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, a UN Service Medal, and a Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. He was a Command Pilot. He was promoted to Brigadier General effective September 1, 1973.

Throughout his career, General Spillers had many interests and talents including woodworking, dominoes, fishing, hunting, skeet and trap shooting. His pet project was building a dune buggy from a Volkswagen. He took it from coast to coast on several of his assignments. Harry was an active member in the San Antonio Target, Hunting and Fishing Club. He also was a member of the Family Motor Coach Association and had personally converted an MCI-8 motor coach into an RV that he and Jennet took from coast to coast and to Alaska. Harry Spillers was a quiet unassuming man, but with a sense of humor. He was a peacemaker. He loved his family, he loved Texas, and this nation. He worked hard and was grateful for the opportunities he was given. He lived honorably and was able to proudly take that with him. He will be greatly missed and frequently remembered. Fondly. And with love.