Looking Back: The First Five

  • Published
  • By Robert Vanderpool
  • OSI Command Historian

The U.S Air Force was formally activated on Sept. 18, 1947. Ten months later, on July 26, 1948, the President of the United States issued Executive Order 9981, which declared “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin,” effectively desegregating the U.S. military.

The Office of Special Investigations was subsequently declared officially operational on Aug. 1, 1948. Three days prior, on July 28, 1948, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command transferred two African-Americans into the Office of Special Investigations. They were joined on July 30, 1948, by an additional three African-Americans also from Army CID. These five enlisted men: Master Sgt. John P. Qualles, Staff Sgt. Andrew T. Johnson, Tech. Sgt. George D. Mosee, Sgt. William H. Cumby, and Master Sgt. Charles F. Crutchfield; were the first African-Americans to serve with the Office of Special Investigations.

Master Sgt. John P. Qualles served as a platoon sergeant and field construction superintendent with the Army Air Forces aviation engineers before earning his pilot wings as a Tuskegee Airmen in late 1944. Qualles served as a Flight Officer flying B-25 medium-bombers for the Army Air Forces in the United States during the later stages of World War II. During that war, the rank of Flight Officer was an enlisted position which ranked below commissioned officer but above other enlisted ranks. World War II ended before Qualles could serve overseas and he was discharged from the military in 1945. He reenlisted in the Army in 1946 at the rank of Master Sergeant and attended the Military Police School and Military Investigations School before being assigned the following year to a detachment with the Army Criminal Investigations Division at Lockbourne Army Airfield, Ohio. In 1947, Lockbourne was home to several African-American flying squadrons that were assigned to the famed 332nd Fighter Group. While at Lockbourne, Qualles served as an investigator, primarily conducting personnel security investigations, but he also served briefly as the detachment commander.

After being transferred to the Office of Special Investigations in 1948, Qualles completed the OSI Training School in 1949 and was assigned as an investigator in New York City.  In 1956 he attended the Advanced Foreign Service Institute to study French, and served for two years at Sidi Slimane Air Base, Morocco. In 1959, Qualles moved to Maguire Air Force Base, New Jersey.  He retired from the Office of Special Investigations in 1963, as a master sergeant. After retiring from the military, Qualles earned several advanced degrees and served as a school teacher, a school administration official and as a local government official in New Jersey before retiring again in 1979 and moving to Texas. Qualles passed away on Dec. 31, 2000, at the age of 82.

Tech. Sgt. George C. Mosee began his military service in 1943, serving with the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps at an Army camp in Pennsylvania. Just four months after induction, Mosee, who had already been promoted to the rank of sergeant, received a commendation for his role in helping to manage a riot that broke out at the camp between segregated units. The incident started out with a fist fight and ended up with gunfire and even tanks being deployed to quell the violence. During the riot, Mosee gathered all the members of his unit who chose not to participate in the riot in a barracks and then spent the night patrolling the perimeter helping to keep everyone inside safe. He received his commendation for his “demonstration of coolness, resourcefulness and devotion to duty.” Mosee was discharged from the Army in 1945.

He enrolled in the Pennsylvania Institute of Criminology and worked for a local detective agency in Philadelphia. With a wife and two children to support, he was struggling to make ends meet when the school’s director suggested that he consider returning to the military and applying for duty with the Army Counterintelligence Corps’ investigations branch. Mosee reenlisted in 1946 and within a few months was assigned to the Army Counterintelligence Corps where he served primarily in undercover operations in Florida. His primary duty was observation and investigation of suspected Communist activities within the segregated military community.

Mosee was transferred to the Office of Special Investigations in 1948 and he graduated from the OSI Training School in 1950.  He served as a special agent with OSI for the next 10 years serving at locations in Texas and Arizona.  He retired from the military in 1964 as a master sergeant. He went on to serve as a security officer with the Philadelphia School District before retiring again in 1987. Mosee passed away on Dec. 21, 2016, at the age of 94.

Master Sergeant Charles F. Crutchfield first enlisted in the military in 1945, joining the Army Air Forces.  Assigned to Williams Field, Arizona, he was recruited in to the Army Counterintelligence Command in 1947. He completed Counterintelligence Command School in Maryland before being assigned to Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, as a special agent. Crutchfield transferred to the Office of Special Investigations in 1948 and graduated from the Office of Investigations Training School in 1949. He shipped overseas to Japan serving in Tokyo and Okinawa. While in Japan, he earned a Commendation Ribbon for his investigation efforts into the local black markets which also included the recovery of substantial amounts of government property.

Crutchfield moved to McChord AFB, Washington, in 1953. His duties there focused largely on larceny, theft and sex offense investigations; however, he also contributed to security and surveillance operations in defense of Strategic Air Command facilities across the Pacific Northwest. This included a variety of facilities that managed nuclear weapons and the aircraft that were tasked to deliver them.  In 1954, the Air Force sent Crutchfield to Indiana University where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government.

Between 1955 and 1957 he worked at the Military Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, conducting personnel security investigations. In 1957 the Air Force sent him to Washington University where he earned a Master’s Degree in Political Science. Crutchfield then worked for a short time in Chicago, Illinois, again conducting personnel security investigations before being sent overseas to Wiesbaden, Germany, where he was primarily responsible for criminal investigations, but also worked on counterfeiting cases. Crutchfield retired from the military in 1962 at the enlisted rank of warrant officer. He later attended law school earning his Juris Doctorate degree in 1964. He entered private practice practicing law in both Indiana and Texas. From 1974 to 1985, Crutchfield taught law as an Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame, and was the first African-American member of that university’s law school faculty. Crutchfield passed away on July 18, 2004, at the age of 85.

Both Staff Sgt. Andrew T. Johnson and Sgt. William H. Cumby Johnson were assigned to Lockbourne AFB, Ohio, following their initial assignment to the Office of Special Investigations. Unfortunately, outside of the orders transferring them to OSI, virtually no other biographic information for either men exists within the OSI History Office archives.

Editor's Note: This is the third installment in the Looking Back Series, spotlighting the storied legacy of OSI.