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Joseph Gomer

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Information about Joseph Gomer

Profile image of Joseph Gomer

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Tuskegee Airman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Brown
Favorite Food:
Fish
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Birch Lake, Minnesota
Favorite Quote:
Once you've been shot at by real bullets, pop guns don't bother you.

Birthplace

Born:
6/20/1920
Birth Location:
Iowa Falls, Iowa

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Tuskegee Airman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Brown
Favorite Food:
Fish
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Birch Lake, Minnesota
Favorite Quote:
Once you've been shot at by real bullets, pop guns don't bother you.

Birthplace

Born:
6/20/1920
Birth Location:
Iowa Falls
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Biography

Retired United States Air Force Major Joseph Philip Gomer served as a fighter pilot with World War II's famed Tuskegee Airmen. Gomer was born on June 20, 1920 in Iowa Falls, Iowa. From the time he was a small boy, he dreamed of flying airplanes.

Gomer and his brother attended school in a town where there were never more than three black families. The only black in his class, Gomer graduated from Iowa Falls High School with honors in 1938. He completed two years of study at Ellsworth College in Iowa Falls, where he took a class in flight instruction. When he enlisted in the Army in 1942, Gomer signed up for pilots' training. His previous flying experience at Ellsworth qualified him to be sent to Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama to participate in President Roosevelt's new program to train black pilots. Gomer received his wings in May of 1943. He was assigned as a Second Lieutenant to the segregated 332 Fighter Group and sent to Ramitrella, Italy, to join the 301st Fighter Squadron.

The 332 Fighter Group served as escorts for the 15th Air Force, running bombing missions in Germany. Engaging German fighters and attacking enemy positions, they fulfilled their mission to perfection-never losing a bomber to the enemy. The white bomber pilots called their guardians the "Red Tailed Angels" after the distinctive markings on their planes. Many of these white bomber pilots did not know that their guardians were black. In Italy, the Red Tails flew over 1,500 sorties, downing 111 enemy aircraft and sinking one German destroyer as 66 black pilots were killed in action. Joseph Gomer shared a tent with three other airmen, but within eight months all of them were killed, leaving him the sole survivor. He crash-landed a P-39, lost his canopy, and was bullet ridden in a P-47, but fought with skill and valor in over 68 sorties with the enemy. Fighting racism as well as the Germans, Gomer remained with the Air Force after the war and was still in service on July 26, 1948, when President Truman signed Executive Order 9981 integrating the United States Armed Forces.

After retiring from the Air Force, Gomer worked for the United States Forestry Service where he earned meritorious recognition for his work in providing equal opportunities for minorities. He currently lives with his wife, Elizabeth, in Duluth, Minnesota. He volunteers in the schools and at church and keeps the name of the Tuskegee Airmen alive.

Gomer passed away on October 10, 2013.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joseph Gomer's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joseph Gomer lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joseph Gomer describes his parents' family histories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joseph Gomer describes the sights, smells, and sounds of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joseph Gomer talks about his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joseph Gomer describes his childhood in Iowa Falls, Iowa
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joseph Gomer talks about his parents and his early education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joseph Gomer talks about his grade school years
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joseph Gomer describes his high school years
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Joseph Gomer talks about his experience at Ellsworth Junior College
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Joseph Gomer talks about his effort to enlist in the war
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Joseph Gomer talks about racial discrimination at Ellsworth Junior College
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Joseph Gomer describes his journey to Tuskegee, Alabama
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joseph Gomer talks about pre-flight training in Tuskegee, Alabama under instructors like Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joseph Gomer describes the P-40 aircraft
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joseph Gomer talks about the U.S. Army's resistance toward deploying black pilots and a training accident
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joseph Gomer talks about being sent into combat under Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joseph Gomer talks about running strafing missions
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joseph Gomer shares a story about being caught alone in enemy territory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joseph Gomer explains the origin of the Red Tail Angels
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Joseph Gomer talks about being grounded and the emotional toll of war
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joseph Gomer talks about V-mail and a near death experience
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joseph Gomer describes the psychological trauma of war and his return to the United States
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joseph Gomer talks about racial discrimination on his return trip to the States
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joseph Gomer talks about working as a training instructor, leaving the military, and reenlisting
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joseph Gomer describes the integration of the Armed Forces
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joseph Gomer talks about integrating Langley Air Force Base and the Korean War
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joseph Gomer describes the legacy the Tuskegee Airmen created for African Americans including HistoryMakers Guion Bluford and Colin Powell
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Joseph Gomer talks about Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Joseph Gomer talks about life in Duluth, Minnesota and his work in the U.S. Forest Service
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joseph Gomer reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joseph Gomer talks about how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joseph Gomer narrates his photographs, pt.1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joseph Gomer narrates his photographs, pt.2