CMSGT Archer was born on July 30, 1921, in New York. At 17 years old he joined the New York National Guard and served two years in the Infantry before going on active duty with the Army Air Corps in 1941. When the U.S Congress created the 99th Pursuit Squadron in 1941 to train Black Pilots, a requirement for Black maintenance technicians also emerged. CMSGT Archer and 13 other Black pilots, left New York for Chanute Field, Illinois, where they received there technical training. Upon graduation, these airmen were sent to Tuskegee Army Airfield and became the support crew for the Tuskegee Airmen.
CMSGT Archer experienced his share of discrimination early on is his career. Once such incident occurred after WWII when he was sent to retrieve a white military prisoner in Texas. In this case, he was not allowed to ride in the same car with the prisoner! Another situation was later encountered at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina when CMSGT Archer young son was barred from enrolling in a local school.
After some friendly advice, CMSGT Archer returned in full dress uniform. His son was promptly admitted. It appears the Principal was duly impressed by the rows of ribbons that faced him. As in most cases. CMSGT Archer handled this in his own diplomatic but very effective way.
In 1949, CMSGT Archer was assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona. Upon arrival he was told: “We don’t know what to do with you. You got too much rank to drive a garbage truck.” Nevertheless, he was made NCOIC of the Armament Shop and remained in Armament & Engineering or the remainder of his career.
CMSGT Archer was the first black in the Air Force to reach that rank. He was nominated three times for the position of Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. His military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with clusters, Bronze Star, Air Force Commendation medal and 15 other service awards. He served in the military with distinction and honor for 35 years and settled his family in Tucson, Arizona.
After retirement from the Air Force, CMSGT Archer became involved with the Model Cities Program. IN 1978, he was selected as the first Director of the “A” Mountain Neighborhood Center, an institution that “was his heart.” He designed the initial plans for the entire center, yet did not take personal credit for it. The “A” Mountain Neighborhood Center now bears CMSGT Fred Archer’s name. One of the lakes in Silverlake Park also carries his name, as well as the former Tucson Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc (TAI). TAI also presents an annual “Chief Master Sergeant Fred Archer Award” to an active duty Senior Noncommissioned Officer who exhibits outstanding performance in both professional and community service.