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Lt. Col. Charles Dryden

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Information about Lt. Col. Charles Dryden

Profile image of Lt. Col. Charles Dryden

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Tuskegee Airman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Sky Blue
Favorite Food:
Red Beans, Rice
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Favorite Quote:
Feed The Children, Teach The Children.

Birthplace

Born:
9/16/1920
Birth Location:
New York, New York

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Tuskegee Airman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Sky Blue
Favorite Food:
Red Beans, Rice
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Favorite Quote:
Feed The Children, Teach The Children.

Birthplace

Born:
9/16/1920
Birth Location:
New York
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Biography

Tuskegee Airman Charles W. Dryden was born on September 16, 1920, in New York City to Jamaican parents who were educators. Dryden graduated from Peter Stuyvesant High School and earned his B.A. degree in political science from Hofstra University and his M.A. degree in public law and government from Columbia University. In 1996, he was awarded an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters by Hofstra University.

In August 1941, Dryden was selected for aviation cadet training at the Tuskegee Army Flying School in Alabama. He was commissioned on April 29, 1942 as a second lieutenant in a class of only three graduates, which was the second class of black pilots to graduate in the history of the U.S. Army Air Corps. Upon completing his training, Dryden was named a member of the famed 99th Pursuit Squadron, and later the 332 Fighter Group, which served in North Africa, Sicily and Italy during World War II. On June 9, 1943, Lt. “A-Train” (his P-40 nickname) led a flight of six pilots engaging enemy fighter aircraft in aerial combat over Pantelleria, Sicily. It was the first time in aviation history that black American pilots of the U.S. Army Air Corps engaged aircraft in combat.

Following the war, Dryden served as a professor of air science at Howard University and retired in 1962 as a command pilot with 4,000 hours flying time. A member of the board of directors of the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame, he also is a member of the Atlanta Metro Lions Club, Quality Living Services (a senior citizens’ organization) and the Atlanta Chapter-Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. (ACTAI), which he helped found in 1978 and which he served as president, vice president and national convention committee chairman in 1980 and 1995. He has been inducted into the Honorable Orders of the Daedalians, the Kentucky Colonels and the Palmetto Gentlemen of South Carolina. In 1998, Colonel Dryden was inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame. His autobiography was published by the University of Alabama Press in 1997 entitled A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman. He was designated an Outstanding Georgia Citizen by the Secretary of State in 1997.

Dryden has three sons, by a former marriage. His wife, Marymal Morgan Dryden, has three sons and a daughter, also by a former marriage. Between them they have five grandchildren. They have made Atlanta their home.

Dryden passed away on June 24, 2008 at the age of 87.

Dryden was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 20, 2004.

See how Lt. Col. Charles Dryden is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lt. Col. Charles Dryden's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about his parents, Violet Buckley Dryden and Charles Levy Tucker Dryden
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden shares his parents' principles for raising him and his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes his father's background and personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about his maternal grandfather, Walter George Buckley, and his Jamaican heritage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden contrasts his ancestors' experience of slavery in Jamaica with that of enslaved people in the United States
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about his introduction to the history of slavery in the United States
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes his elementary school experience at P.S. 46 in New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden charts his trajectory from excelling in high school to struggling in college and eventually obtaining his bachelor's degree
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about his siblings, Denis Alvin Dryden and Pauline Dryden
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes the Bronx neighborhood where he and his family lived in New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden remembers role models from his community in the Bronx, New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden recalls attending P.S. 46 for elementary school and I.S. 164, Edward W. Stitt Junior High School in New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden recalls attending P.S. 46 for elementary school and I.S. 164, Edward W. Stitt Junior High School in New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden remembers the influence of Reverend Edler Garnet Hawkins of St. Augustine Presbyterian Church in New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes his experience at Peter Stuyvesant High School in New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about his desire to fly planes
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden recalls his aspiration to be a pilot while attending The City College of New York, New York, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes how he achieved his dream of becoming a pilot in the U.S. military during World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about earning his master's degree at Columbia University in New York, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden explains how he was able to apply for and earn his master's degree at Columbia University in New York, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about being awarded the honorary doctorate of humane letters by Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about earning the title of colonel and his role model, Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about his close-knit family and his mentors at Tuskegee Army Flying School in Tuskegee, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden shares the advice he received from a master sergeant at Tuskegee Army Air Base in Tuskegee, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes his initial experience as an officer at Tuskegee Army Air Base in Tuskegee, Alabama
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about the military traditions of giving a dollar for the first salute and having an orderly
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes his best experience in the U.S. military
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes his most disappointing experience in the U.S. military
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes his response to racism and segregation at Walterboro Army Airfield in Walterboro, South Carolina
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden discusses being court-martialed for his actions in response to racism at Walterboro Army Airfield in Walterboro, South Carolina
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes the outcome of his court martial for his response to racism on Walterboro Army Airfield in Walterboro, South Carolina
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about his experience working at Pepsi-Cola and PepsiCo, Inc. from 1964 to 1968
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about his experience as the executive director of Presbyterian Economic Development Corporation (PEDCO)
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about his experience in Jamaica and the outcome of some proposals for Presbyterian Economic Development Corporation (PEDCO)
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about his work with agencies helping addicts and single mothers in New York, New York and Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about his experience in the personnel department at Lockheed Martin
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about leaving Pepsi-Cola to maintain his integrity in 1968
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about writing and publishing his book 'A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden talks about promoting his book 'A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman' and his plans for future books
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes anecdotes from his life that he plans on using in his future books
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden reflects upon the current generation and his plans for his future book, 'Thank God, I'm Not Young Anymore'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes the incidents that inspired his prospective book 'Thank God, I'm Not Young Anymore'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden narrates his photographs