Lt. Spann was an original Tuskegee Airman and fighter pilot with the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group. Spann received his wings from the Tuskegee Flight School as a part of the graduating class of 44G, an elite squadron of African-American pilots. As a member of the United States Army Air Corps, he served in Europe during World War II, where he flew 26 combat missions, including a 1,600-mile round trip mission on March 24, 1945 from Ramitelli, Italy to Berlin, Germany to destroy the Daimler-Benz manufacturing plant, according to the Dallas Love Field Frontiers of Flight Museum.
On February 28, 2006, the U.S. Congress approved a bill authorizing President George W. Bush to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Tuskegee Airmen, the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States. The 2012 Hollywood blockbuster movie, Red Tails, was based on the African-American pilots in the Tuskegee training program.
Prior to his death, Lt. Spann was still very active in his community, speaking at schools, churches and organizations about the Tuskegee Airmen experience and how their courage and valor helped them to triumph. During these speeches, he encouraged students to make a commitment to excel in the study of mathematics and science, reminding them that through preparation and perseverance, they can succeed.