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Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, Jr.

Tuskegee Airman and radio programming executive Oscar Lawton Wilkerson Jr. was born on February 9, 1926 in Chicago Heights, Illinois to Oscar L. and Elizabeth Wilkerson. After his graduation from Bloomfield Township High School in 1944, Wilkerson entered the U.S. Army Air Force’s Aviation Cadet training program in Tuskegee, Alabama. He was assigned to the 617th Bombardment Squadron, where he was trained to fly the B-25 “Billy Mitchell” bomber.

Wilkerson received his commission as a 2nd lieutenant and his “wings” as a B-25 pilot in 1946. In 1947, he graduated from the New York Institute of Photography. Wilkerson also graduated from the Midwest Broadcasting School in 1960. Wilkerson became a weekend disc jockey and community relations director at WBEE-AM in Harvey, Illinois in 1962. As an on-air personality, he was known as “Weekend Wilkie.” As community relations director, he launched a weekly radio show hosted by Chicago Alderman Charles Chew, as well as publicity campaigns for the NAACP, the Chicago Urban League, the Committee of 100 and other organizations. Wilkerson was promoted to the position of program director at WBEE in 1965. Under Wilkerson’s supervision, WBEE launched the radio career of Merri Dee, who became known as “Merri Dee, the Honey Bee.” In 1969, he oversaw the station’s switch to a more jazz-oriented format, and took on the additional responsibilities of operations manager. Wilkerson also hosted his own program, Wilk’s World, on weekday mornings. Wilkerson left WBEE in 1971 to become the public affairs director at WMAQ Radio. In that role, he was responsible for all public service material aired on the station. Wilkerson was named program director at WMAQ in 1973, and served there until his retirement in 1988. Following his retirement, Wilkerson served as president of the Multi Media Ministry at New Faith Baptist Church in Matteson, Illinois. He is one of the “Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen” (DOTAs), and is active in the Chicago “Dodo” chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. Wilkerson regularly visits schools around the United States to tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. He lives in Markham, Illinois.

Oscar Lawton Wilkerson Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.202

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/22/2013

Last Name

Wilkerson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Lawton

Schools

Tuskegee University

Midwest Broadcasting School

Bloom High School

New York Institute of Photography

Washington Junior High School

Lincoln Elementry School

Dr. Charles Gavin School

First Name

Oscar

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago Heights

HM ID

WIL66

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

2/9/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Tuskegee airman and radio program director Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, Jr. (1926 - ) received his commission as 2nd lieutenant with the 617th Bombardment Squadron in 1946. After his service with the U.S. Army Air Force, he had a long career in radio as a programming executive.

Employment

WMAQ Radio

WBEE Radio

South Suburban Bus Lines

Golden State Mutual Insurance Company

Hammond & Powell Funeral Home

United States Army Air Force

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:46294,555:70240,867:102181,1249:109640,1357:122100,1525:137480,1741:142998,1970:167775,2447:200545,2871:213769,3062:214164,3102:257440,3708$0,0:6624,143:6912,148:11088,239:50514,761:56969,878:73888,1141:74364,1149:80348,1258:80756,1264:122080,1891:183510,2851
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Oscar Wilkerson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his parents' occupations and their move to Chicago

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson mentions his older brother and describes the neighborhood he grew up in

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his elementary school experience

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his junior high school and high school experience

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his interest in aviation and in joining the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Oscar Wilkerson remembers his basic training experience in Biloxi, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about attending church as a child as well as his father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his mother's personality and his interest in photography

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes how his family celebrated the holidays

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about going on family vacations

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his older brother

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his basic training in Biloxi, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his primary training in Tuskegee, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his primary training in Tuskegee, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his first flight experience

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his first solo flight

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as a cadet at the Tuskegee Army Air Force Base, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as a cadet at the Tuskegee Army Air Force Base, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes Tuskegee's civilian environment

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses the first phase of his advanced training at Tuskegee Army Airfield

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses the additional phases of his training at Tuskegee Army Airfield

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about leaving military service

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his various civilian jobs and becoming a radio broadcaster

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson recalls his flight training and the flying accidents that occurred

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes those officers in charge during his flight training and his various jobs after leaving the military

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about going into radio broadcasting and his interest in music

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about the first radio station he worked for

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his colleagues and responsibilities at WBEE Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about the entertainers and radio personalities he knew at WBEE Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses competing radio station, WVON

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses going to work for WMAQ Radio

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about former State Senator, Charles Chew, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his colleagues at the radio station, WBEE

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about becoming Manager of Community Affairs at WMAQ

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as Manager of Community Affairs at WMAQ

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about other blacks in Chicago broadcasting

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson compares his jobs at radio stations, WMAQ and WBEE

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about WMAQ Radio's shift into country music

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson describes WMAQ under Charlie Warner's leadership

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson explains what radio taught him and why he was successful

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about the community leaders he met during his radio career and his work with NBACA

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses positive highlights from his career in radio

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his participation in local organizations and his retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about pilot, Jim Tillman and the differences between Chicago Heights and Chicago in Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his military emblems

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson describes what it feels like to fly a plane

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about performing a prohibited plane maneuver in his hometown of Chicago Heights

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

2$4

DATitle
Oscar Wilkerson recalls his flight training and the flying accidents that occurred
Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as Manager of Community Affairs at WMAQ
Transcript
Now you said 9,000 were trained to fly?$$Nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety two.$$Were flo--were trained to fly.$$Yeah.$$Okay. And so how many people were on the ground then?$$Ten times that, plus.$$Ten, okay. So you're saying the whole, whole contention of, of Tuskegee Airmen is about--that would be almost 50,000.$$Yeah, whatever the math comes to be, yes.$$Okay.$$This, this is support people that keep that plane in the air.$$And for each--so what, what did it take one to fly and how often were you flying when you were flying? Even the, the practice drills. How--what, what was that regiment like?$$Flew virtually every day. And when you're early in training, your instructor every day. Then you'd go out after you've soloed and you'd fly and practice those things that you were taught by the instructor. So you flew every day. And for most of the time you also had ground school courses to take every day. Learning flight, learning about the aircraft you were flying, and the many facets of keeping you in the air so that emergencies come along, you'll be able to take care of 'em and all of that is bound together to make one pilot.$$And so during the time that--were there any accidents that happened?$$Yeah.$$Okay and do you remember like the worse accident that happened?$$I remember there were in--not in my advanced class, but in some advanced class the cadets were flying T6's, the aircraft that I mentioned that was the first one with the retractable gear. Flying formation and somebody got too close and they clipped wings. The--one of the pilots was able to get out and ejected and I don't, I don't mean eject like in the jet when you pull a handle and you get shot out. You had to put the canopy back, get your harness off and get out of the plane. He didn't manage to do so and he went down with the aircraft. I don't recall who that was or what class it was, but that did happen, may have happened more than once. I, I know about that one. There have been other lesser accidents and people weren't killed. I was involved in one myself, but obviously I was not killed.$$You mean when you say you were involved in one, you were involved an accident and you came, and you came down with the plane.$$We were flying in advanced training and I was, we were doing night landings. Part of the training involved flying at night and they put you in the air and they would give you a segment to fly in until it was your time to come back to the field and land. So you'd circle in that quadrant and they would call you in to land. Well there was somebody--when they finally called me in to land, there was somebody ahead of me as there always is. You land and you do what they call touch and goes. You make a--what would be a perfect landing except you don't stop. You just pull the coat on and you take off and you go around again in order to save time; you're not taxiing on the ground. The guy ahead of me landed and was supposed to have taken off to go ahead and he didn't. And then the--I believe the tower told him to clear the runway, but he also didn't do that. And in the meantime they had cleared me to land and I didn't know that he was still on the runway. And when I landed, I see this guy ahead of me and I attempted to pull up to get a--away from hitting him. My landing gear clipped his--part of his canopy and both planes went over upside down. But I--both of us survived that. He got a big bump on his head and they had to shave part of his hair off, which was his major injury. And nothing happened to me. That was the crash I was involved in. But I'm sure there were others. I was about to say many, but probably not many; there were others.$What was your, what were--what did they say they wanted you to do and what did they want you to accomplish?$$Well I was responsible for making sure that we met all the federal requirements for a broadcasting station to stay on. You don't just come on the air and stay on the air cause you want to, you got to fulfill certain obligations so far as responding to community needs, determining what they are, programming toward response to those needs, and prove that you did. And the percentage has to be whatever is required at the time, eighteen percent or whatever it was, of programming that responded to those needs. And my responsibility was to make sure we're doing that; keep record of it so that when it came time to apply for license, you could prove that in paper and you did so, in sheaves of paper. That was my primary responsibility at that point.$$Well that's a good job for a black person to have at network station.$$Yeah, it was a good job.$$I mean, I mean a, a very good job. And so the question I have: Were they under any heat at that point that they hired you? Was [W]MAQ--were there any challenges about not doing certain things for the community or not?$$Not--I don't think so, no.$$Okay, so what you then do with the--with your, your, your job then? What are, what are the programs you put on, and--$$Well we did a number of discussion types of programs, specific ones I can't remember. And we were involved in the various community activities. I was like the face for the station at various banquets and stuff. I ate royally and attended a lot of things I would not have gotten a chance to see on my own. Went a lot of places that I would not have been able to go to on my own because I was in D.C. [District of Columbia].$$What were some of those places?$$Oh well New York City, the home headquarters, went there a number of times and we were located and still are as far as I know, located in the Rockefeller Center Building there. Had lunch in the Rainbow Room like the big dogs did and things such as that. I became the Treasurer for the National Association of Broadcast--$$National Association of Broadcasters?$$No, no, no.$$NABJ [National Association of Black Journalists]?$$NABA [North American Broadcasters Association] I think it was. Anyway the org--national organization of those who were in my kind of job and across the nation. And we had a couple of--$$You became what?$$The Treasurer.$$You were the Treasurer.$$Yeah, and NBACA [National Broadcast Association for Community Affairs] maybe, National Broadcast Association of--I've forgotten the rest of that title, but it was people who were in, in public affairs at stations across the nation. And we had several meetings in, in Vail, Colorado and that was nice. And all kinds of stuff like that, that I would not have been able to do on my own.

Dr. James Williams

As a military officer and physician, Dr. James B. Williams has spent his entire career in public service. Co-founding the Williams Medical Clinic in Chicago with his two brothers, Dr. Jasper F. Williams and Dr. Charles L. Williams, he was also part of a handful of dedicated young men who enlisted and became America’s first black airmen, known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

In 1942, with a pre-medicine background, Williams was drafted into the military and given a position with the medical corps at Camp Pickett, Virginia, and was chosen to attend Medical Administrative Officers Candidate School. Wanting to become a pilot, however, he asked to transfer to the Army Air Corps. He was subsequently appointed an aviation cadet and sent to Boca Raton Club, Florida, for basic training. From there, he went to Yale University for technical training, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Corps. As a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, Williams served as an Engineering Officer in the post war 99th Fighter Squadron. Also during his time in the service, Williams was among the 101 black officers who attempted to integrate a segregated officers’ club in what became known as the Freeman Field Mutiny.

Williams, a native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was born on May 28, 1919 to Clara Belle Williams and Jasper B. Williams and was educated in a segregated grade and high school. He earned his B.S. degree in chemistry from New Mexico State University after finishing his military service, and with dreams of becoming a physician, he earned his M.D. degree from Creighton University School of Medicine. There, he met his future wife, Willeen Brown. Williams continued his medical education and was accepted into Creighton’s surgical residency program, earning his M.S. degree in surgery in 1956. With his various medical experiences, he and his brothers established the Williams Clinic on Chicago’s South Side. At its peak, there were more than twenty-eight doctors practicing at the clinic. Williams also worked at Chicago’s St. Bernard’s Hospital in 1957 as its first African American physician, becoming the hospital’s chief of surgery from 1971 to 1972. Williams combined his dedication to progress and medical prowess by meeting with President John F. Kennedy in 1963, as a member of a National Medical Association delegation to advance an amendment to the Hill-Burton Act that would prevent discrimination in hospitals built with federal assistance. Williams also served as physician to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when the civil rights leader lived in Chicago.

Williams and his wife lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The couple had two children: a daughter, Brenda Payton Jones, a former columnist for the Oakland Tribune, and a son, Dr. James B. Williams II, colorectal surgeon in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Williams passed away on November 23, 2016.

Accession Number

A2008.088

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/16/2008

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Middle Name

B

Schools

Booker T. Washington

Wiley College

University of New Mexico

Tuskegee University

New Mexico State University

Creighton University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

El Paso

HM ID

WIL47

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

Sponsor

Brenda Payton

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/28/1919

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

11/23/2016

Short Description

Surgeon and tuskegee airman Dr. James Williams (1919 - 2016 ) co-founded the Williams Clinic on Chicago's South Side. He also served as Dr. King's physician while Dr. King lived in Chicago. He was also a member of the Tuskegee Airmen as an Engineering Officer after World War II.

Employment

619th Bombardment Squadron

St. Bernard's Hospital

Williams Clinic

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:770,9:3465,78:4697,107:5390,118:8510,127:9336,136:21148,303:24820,332:25590,350:28180,402:40363,531:61068,739:62124,753:66500,846:68612,875:98250,1212$0,0:4704,73:5376,83:6048,94:27900,190:28300,196:28860,204:29180,209:33208,257:33856,266:35638,285:36043,291:45087,455:45719,466:48326,509:48958,518:49511,526:59952,631:60576,643:61122,653:61434,658:63618,702:69092,739:70555,762:72403,794:73096,806:74174,825:107438,1105:108030,1115:108992,1131:111212,1206:115758,1251:127762,1353:129556,1390:132832,1484:133924,1511:135250,1533:141234,1572:157722,1712:158182,1718:174220,1859:175721,1896:179987,1963:181014,1978:189360,2119
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. James Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams describes his mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams describes his father's civil rights activities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams recalls Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. James Williams describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams remembers moving to Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams recalls his family's dog

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams remembers the doctor who treated his brother's clubfoot

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams recalls the Booker T. Washington School in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams describes his parents' careers

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams describes his family life

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams describes the role of religion in his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams describes his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams describes school segregation in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams recalls meeting George Washington Carver as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams describes his high school education at the Booker T. Washington School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams remembers Wiley College in Marshall, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams recalls the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams describes training in aircraft maintenance

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams recalls his promotion to engineering officer in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams remembers serving in the U.S. Army during World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams remembers segregation at Freeman Army Airfield

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams recalls his arrest during the Freeman Field Mutiny

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams recalls his imprisonment during the Freeman Field Mutiny

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams describes his legal defense during the Freeman Field Mutiny

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams recalls serving at the Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams remembers Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams describes his and his brothers' early medical careers

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams recalls applying to medical schools

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams recalls his older brother's injury on the family homestead

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams remembers Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams describes his early medical career

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams recalls becoming Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s physician

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams recalls treating an infant who suffered a gunshot wound in utero

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams remembers serving as a physician for prominent civil rights leaders

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams remembers Elijah Muhammad

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dr. James Williams remembers his patients in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dr. James Williams describes his family members' medical careers

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams describes the healthcare system in Cuba

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams talks about health insurance in the United States

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams describes his membership in professional organizations

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams reflects upon the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams reflects upon the history of the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dr. James Williams describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

6$9

DATitle
Dr. James Williams recalls treating an infant who suffered a gunshot wound in utero
Dr. James Williams describes how he would like to be remembered
Transcript
We had a baby that my brother [Jasper F. Williams] and I operated, it was the first baby in the world--the mother was pregnant with the baby and she was shot. And the bullet went in the, the child's flank, went through the liver, the colon, collapsed the right lung and ended up behind the bone in the right upper arm. That's the first baby in the world to survive a gunshot wound to the abdomen and chest in utero, was the one that we did.$$Um-hm.$$I don't think anybody's changed that since then. And my brother delivered the baby, and he handed him to me, and when I got 'em he wasn't breathing, he had no heartbeat, and I started resuscitating him, and his heart started beating and the kid, we invited him to the conference at the University of Illinois, you know, my wife [Willeen Brown Williams] picked up the mother and the child, the little guy was interested in everything that was going on that evening. And the mother said he's the smartest kid she had, she had five other kids, you know, but he survived. And now, he was, that's when we celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary, and now we just finished our fifty-seventh, so he's, must be about twenty, he's probably twenty-seven years old now.$Our last question is similar to legacy but a little different. Sir, how would you like to be remembered?$$I hadn't thought of that (laughter). But, in my field of surgery I thought I was, could compete with anybody, of course I had good training, I had a master's degree in surgery, which very few surgeons have. And after that I went up to the Royal Vic [Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Canada], in McGill [McGill University, Montreal, Canada] and they had a Jewish surgeon up there who was taking the internal mammary artery and re-vascularizing the heart, that was the fir- I had an opportunity to be up there when he was doing that, which was very unusual. And now they can do bypasses, but what he was doing, he got collateral circulation and he got some mock-ups, you know to show that he was getting collateral circulation in the animals that he did 'em on. I hope we can get somebody in medical school down in Cuba 'cause I think that's a great opportunity that's being overlooked, and still don't know why that some of the black males who were in the program dropped out, I haven't had a chance to talk to the guy from Ohio State [The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio], you know, who takes the kids down there.$$But you wanna be remembered as a good surgeon?$$Oh yeah.$$And?$$And a good parent, yeah. I think that's important. I think that's important for all black parents. I mean, I agree with what Obama's [HistoryMaker President Barack Obama] telling the folks that they have to be responsible for their kids. Of course it's interesting, our kids, we had a motor home and we'd go to skiing in the wintertime, and in the summertime we'd go to Canada, fishing, and both of them liked those things even though they did 'em as kids and they--my son [James Williams II] has a motor home, he still likes to go fishing and skiing. And plus, the fact, I told you he was an excellent surgeon and has made well. Just like I told you, he was considered the best colorectal surgeon in the State of New Mexico.$$Okay, so you'd like to be remembered as a good surgeon and a good parent.$$That's right.

Hiram Little

Post office manager and Tuskegee Airman Hiram Emory Little, Sr. was born on March 31, 1919 in Eatonton, Georgia. When Little was young, his family moved from the rural town of Eatonton to Atlanta, Georgia where he attended David T. Howard Elementary and Junior High Schools. While in junior high school, Little was a charter member of Troop 94, the very first Boy Scout Troop in an African American school in Atlanta.

In 1941, Little enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was trained at the Chanute Air Force Base located in Rantoul, Illinois, as an aircraft armorer in the Tuskegee Aviation Program. Little also served as a part-time instructor at the Cadet Ground School of the Tuskegee Army Air Base in Tuskegee, Alabama. Little served at the Tuskegee Army Air Base until December of 1943, when he applied for flight training. In 1944, Little graduated from bombardier school and in January of the following year, he was assigned to the 477th Bombardment Group as a crew member on a B-25 bomber. By late 1944, the 477th Bombardment Group was assigned to conduct combat training missions, but winter conditions reduced their flying time. They faced constant instances of racism from white officers.

In March of 1945, the 477th Bombardment Group was moved to Freeman Field, Indiana. Although the 477th trained with both the B-25 and the P-47 aircraft, the war ended before the 477th could be deployed overseas into combat. At Freeman Field, tension between white and black personnel increased due to strict segregationist policies. When Little, along with other black aviators, entered the whites’ only officers’ club, they were arrested. They had defied an illegal order issued by the commander of the 447th Bombardment Group. The commander had classified all black officers as trainees and decreed they were not allowed to use the staff officers’ club. Instead, the trainees, who had already graduated from flight school, were required to use a second former NCO club, housed in a run-down building. This event became known as the Freeman Field Mutiny.

On December 1, 1945, Little was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army Air Corps and enrolled at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia to complete his academic studies. While attending Morehouse College, Little was hired to work for the Atlanta U. S. Postal Service. In 1955, he became one of the first African American supervisors in the Atlanta area. Little worked for the U.S. post office until he retired in 1978 as a mid-level manager. In 2005, at the age of eighty, he received a certificate in carpentry from the Atlanta Technical College. Little, along with the remaining Tuskegee Airmen, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush in 2007.

Hiram Little was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 10, 2007.

Little passed away on February 18, 2017.

Accession Number

A2007.252

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/10/2007

Last Name

Little

Maker Category
Schools

David T. Howard High School

Morehouse College

Atlanta Technical College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Hiram

Birth City, State, Country

Eatonton

HM ID

LIT03

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Stay

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

3/31/1919

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hotcakes (McDonald's), Sausage

Death Date

2/18/2017

Short Description

Post office manager and tuskegee airman Hiram Little (1919 - 2017 ) was a member of the 477th Bombardment Group. In April of 1945, Little was one of the African American enlistees who attempted to desegregate the officers’ club at Freeman Field. He along with the other surviving Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2007.

Employment

United States Army Air Corps

Cadet Ground School of the Tuskegee Army Air Base

United States Army Air Force

Atlanta Postal Service

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:735,13:9450,173:18075,275:19500,362:42588,672:52865,782:54640,821:89480,1233:98302,1471:114408,1680:141589,2026:142147,2033:143440,2038:146359,2071:147054,2077:160414,2142:163406,2190:163846,2196:164286,2202:164814,2209:171000,2274:171500,2280:175150,2300:175434,2305:185180,2512$0,0:5185,122:5610,128:6290,138:11560,239:12155,246:27365,501:27705,506:33315,648:49258,798:54156,962:62925,1126:66638,1215:72689,1220:81144,1369:83814,1438:96180,1614:106980,1851:128900,2092
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Hiram Little's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Hiram Little lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Hiram Little describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Hiram Little describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Hiram Little describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Hiram Little describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Hiram Little describes his birth

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Hiram Little describes the Spivey Plantation in Putnam County, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Hiram Little talks about his parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Hiram Little describes his family

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Hiram Little remembers the blacksmith on the Spivey Plantation

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Hiram Little describes his father's work on the Spivey Plantation

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Hiram Little describes his home in Putnam County, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Hiram Little describes the workers on Spivey Plantation

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Hiram Little recalls picking cotton on the Spivey Plantation

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Hiram Little describes his older brother

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Hiram Little remembers his schooling at Texas A.M.E. Church in Eatonton, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Hiram Little remembers moving to Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Hiram Little remembers joining the Boy Scouts of America

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Hiram Little describes his neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Hiram Little recalls David T. Howard Colored Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Hiram Little remembers listening to the radio

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Hiram Little describes his parents' professions

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Hiram Little describes his pastimes as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Hiram Little recalls his early aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Hiram Little recalls his decision to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Hiram Little remembers Morehouse College

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Hiram Little recalls joining the 99th Pursuit Squadron

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Hiram Little describes his duties at Tuskegee Army Airfield

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Hiram Little recalls becoming a bombardier

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Hiram Little describes Sharpe Field in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Hiram Little remembers the Freeman Field Mutiny, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Hiram Little remembers the Freeman Field Mutiny, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Hiram Little describes his duties as a flight officer

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Hiram Little remembers the pilots he admired

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Hiram Little talks about the founding of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Hiram Little remembers receiving the Congressional Gold Medal

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Hiram Little describes the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. organization

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Hiram Little remembers returning to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Hiram Little talks about his wife and children

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Hiram Little describes his career at the post office

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Hiram Little remembers the changes in the post office

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Hiram Little describes his organizational involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Hiram Little describes his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Hiram Little describes his work with the Cub Scouts

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Hiram Little talks about the speaker's bureau of Tuskegee Airmen Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Hiram Little recalls earning a degree in carpentry

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Hiram Little reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Hiram Little reflects upon his legacy and how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Hiram Little shares his advice for future generations

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Hiram Little narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

11$5

DATitle
Hiram Little remembers the blacksmith on the Spivey Plantation
Hiram Little recalls becoming a bombardier
Transcript
Tell me more about the Spivey Plantation [Putnam County, Georgia] where you grew up.$$What I can remember about the Spivey Plantation was that it looked like everything you needed there, Mr. Spivey [John Greene Spivey] had it on his plantation. One of the things I remember most was he had a blacksmith shop, and the blacksmith shop was right across the street from his cotton gin, he had a cotton gin, where you gin the cotton, we picked the cotton, and you take it to this gin and they gin it and bale it up and send it to town and sell it. But, right, right across the street from his cotton gin was a blacksmith shop, and the blacksmith was named Anderson, his last name was Anderson, A-N-D-E-R-S-O-N, and his first name was Alex, A-L-E-X, Alex Anderson and I understand from talking to some of the people he was a native of Sweden. How he got to America I don't know, but he was--well mules and horses had to be shoed. He would shoe, shoe them horses and mules, and I remember watching him and how he would take these, he would start, I think he always started on the left side of the horse or the shoe, the mule he was shoeing, and he would cut trim and I would ask him, "Does that hurt?" I can remember asking him, "Does that hurt the horses?" He said, "Nah just like your fingernails. Say you cut your finger it don't hurt you. It's the same way with horse." And he would know how, how far to cut 'cause he would have to nail the shoes, all shoes on the, that foot and he, I said, "At least don't hurt these horses you never been kicked?" He said, "No I never been kicked." He said, "I know where to start and I know why, how far to go and I nail these shoes on this horse and the, the mules. They'll stay there until the, you know they wear off and they come back and I shoe them again." I can remember his wife was named Jenny, Jenny, Ms. Jenny [ph.], and the thing I remember about Ms. Jenny she is--and, I, I, I've thought about this a lot. Ms. Jenny didn't have any white friends. All of Ms. Jenny's people were blacks, and I found out that the white folks in that community since Ms. Jenny's husband did ma- manual labor and horse, shoeing houses it was a little below their social standing. So, all the, the visit that Ms. Jenny had were black, black women and she would talk about. She had a son, a couple of sons that lived somewhere in Florida. I think it was St. Petersburg, Florida. She used to talk about them a lot, but I, I can't remember what she used to stay about them.$And then I decided I wanna go into the flying end of it 'cause you got 50 percent more pay when you--on flight duty. So, after doing all this, all these times I said I wanna try out for flight training. But, to apply for flight training it's a whole new ball game. So, they sent me down to Keesler Field, Mississippi [Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Mississippi], which was a classification center. I must have spent eight or nine weeks down there, and they had some of everything. Had you doing some psychological things, psychomotor things, depth perception, all the color blindness. You could get out of there if you were color blind. You have to be able to recognize all of them lights by glancing at them, different colors what they mean. You can't stay with them all the time, but you have to, if you're color blind you had to wash out of that. But, anyway after they get through doing all these testing with you they, they had three categories of people. The guys who had in the top third of the class were designated as pilot trainees. These were potential pilots. That mean we set these guys aside. They, they in the top third of the class. The second tier of classes were guys who, these are guys they were gonna send to Hondo, Texas, and train them as celestial navigators where you can be out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and nothing but water, but you could shoot the moon or the stars or the sun and tell exactly where you are, celestial navigation; those are the guys. Well, the third bunch well I fell, these guys are not gonna be much of anything. We make, (laughter) we make them bombardiers slash navigators (laughter). That's the way I feel. That's all right I took it. So, yeah--$$So you were a bombardier.$$Yeah, sent me. I let there and went to Midland, Texas [Midland Army Airfield, Texas], and stayed down there in Midland, Texas for I don't know how many months, but anyway I left there with a ranking as a flight officer which is similar, similar to a warrant officer junior grade, same pay. Flight officer is a bombardier slash navigator.

Dabney N. Montgomery

Tuskegee Airman Dabney N. Montgomery was born on April 18, 1923 in Selma, Alabama to Lula Anderson Montgomery and Dred Montgomery. He attended the Alabama Lutheran Academy and then Selma University High School, graduating in 1941. After high school, he joined the U.S. Army and was sent for basic training at Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi. After that, Montgomery was sent to Quartermaster Training School at Camp Lee, Virginia (outside of Petersburg), where he received special training in supplies.

In 1943, Montgomery of the 1051st Quartermaster Company of the 96th Air Service Group, attached to the 332nd Air Fighter Group was deployed to Italy. He served there until the end of World War II. In 1946, after returning to the United States, Montgomery entered Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina. Montgomery became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and graduated with his B.A. degree in religious education in 1949. Between 1949 and 1950, he returned to Livingstone College and acquired thirty hours in economic study. He briefly studied economics at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University before going to Boston, Massachusetts, where he enrolled at the Boston Conservatory of Music, studying dance. Montgomery later studied dance with the New York City Metropolitan Opera Dance School before an injury forced him to end his career. In 1955, he began working for the city, first as a Social Service Investigator in the Department of Social Services and later for the Housing Authority. He retired in 1988.

Montgomery passed away on September 3, 2016.

Montgomery was heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement. He participated in marches in New York City and in the 1963 March on Washington. In 1965, Montgomery was one of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s bodyguards on the historic Selma to Montgomery march.

Since his retirement, Montgomery has worked as a Social Outreach Worker for Project FIND, a non-profit organization assisting older adults on Manhattan’s West Side. Montgomery is also very active with Harlem’s Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, which is the oldest organized black church in New York, founded in 1796. Montgomery is also active on the Parks Committee and Harlem’s Interfaith Committee of the Tenth Community Board of Manhattan.

Montgomery has been married to his wife, Amelia Montgomery, for thirty-seven years (as of 2007). They have no children.

Montgomery was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 7, 2007.

Montgomery passed away on September 3, 2016.

Accession Number

A2007.226

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/7/2007 |and| 2/5/2008

Last Name

Montgomery

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

M.

Schools

Selma University

Concordia College Alabama

Livingstone College

Metropolitan Opera Ballet School

Boston Conservatory at Berklee

University of Michigan

Wayne State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Dabney

Birth City, State, Country

Selma

HM ID

MON06

Favorite Season

None

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Los Angeles, California

Favorite Quote

If You Have A Problem, Look At Your Feet. You May Be Standing On The Solution.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

4/18/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweet Potatoes, Greens (Collard)

Death Date

9/3/2016

Short Description

City government employee, tuskegee airman, and civil rights activist Dabney N. Montgomery (1923 - 2016 ) was a social services investigator in the Department of Social Services and for the New York Housing Authority.

Employment

U.S. Army Air Corps

New York City Housing Authority

Amsterdam Welfare Center

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:798,9:89842,1033:97616,1121:98240,1130:98942,1140:99332,1146:104293,1200:106810,1216:107310,1223:128620,1451:128960,1456:131160,1478:148861,1648:151322,1682:154810,1701$0,0:1391,18:2247,26:6422,57:6818,62:21226,239:25178,301:54784,576:55276,589:55768,596:62595,661:88030,933:92478,970:95610,1030:96045,1036:125686,1353:129557,1422:130031,1429:142500,1543:143300,1586:145140,1616:145460,1621:171264,1955:174232,2003:185955,2079:195222,2190:203654,2276:210124,2336:224734,2493:233492,2593:265754,2907:269665,2966:269965,2971:270265,2976:270565,2981:279859,3095:280294,3101:289634,3197:293089,3231:336260,3626:341920,3683
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dabney N. Montgomery's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his mother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his father's marriages

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his half-brother, Joe Montgomery

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his father's standing in his career

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his brother, Mitchel Montgomery

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his sister, Fairrow Belle Montgomery Prewitt, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his sister, Fairrow Belle Montgomery Prewitt, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his two youngest siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his mother's death

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the holidays

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his neighborhood in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the black community in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his home life

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the Alabama Lutheran Academy in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his leadership at the Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls attending high school at Selma University in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his decision to study religion

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes race relations in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls being drafted during World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his assignments in the U.S. Army Air Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers his colleagues in the U.S. Army Air Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his experiences on segregated trains

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the formation of the 332nd Fighter Group

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls the Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers serving as a chaplain to the Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his friends among the Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the Claude B. Govan Tri-State Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the treatment of black soldiers in Europe

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the missions of the 332nd Fighter Group

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about the integration of the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his Congressional Gold Medal

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the end of World War II

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his return from the U.S. military to Selma, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers studying economics

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers studying ballet at the Boston Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls meeting Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his brief engagement in Spain

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his return from New York City to Selma, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his first civil rights protest in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the impact of the Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery narrates his photographs

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Dabney N. Montgomery's interview, session 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the civil rights march on Washington, D.C. in 1957

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers Paul Robeson

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the influence of Dean John H. Satterwhite

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers his father's friendship with A. Philip Randolph

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the March on Washington

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his decision to study economics

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his experiences as an economics student

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his ballet training at the Boston Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his interest in black history

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers traveling in North Africa

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls reconnecting with his Spanish fiancee, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls reconnecting with his Spanish fiancee, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers receiving a vision of angels

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his travels in Egypt

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his acquaintance wiht Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his start as an activist in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers staying at a hotel in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls speaking at the Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls drinking from a white water fountain in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers his decision to join the second Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his arrival at the second Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the second Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his sister's role in the Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about the decision to remain nonviolent during the second Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery recalls his experiences during the second Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery reflects upon his life

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers the Harlem community in New York City

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the changes in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about the history of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Dabney N. Montgomery reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers joining the Tuskegee Airman, Inc.

Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his membership at the Mother Zion A.M.E. Church in New York City

Tape: 11 Story: 11 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers meeting his wife, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Dabney N. Montgomery remembers meeting his wife, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. organization

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Dabney N. Montgomery talks about his great-grandfather's U.S. military service

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Dabney N. Montgomery describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Dabney N. Montgomery shares his memorabilia from the Selma to Montgomery March

DASession

1$2

DATape

4$10

DAStory

7$3

DATitle
Dabney N. Montgomery remembers serving as a chaplain to the Tuskegee Airmen
Dabney N. Montgomery recalls drinking from a white water fountain in Selma, Alabama
Transcript
You see, what we did [as part of the 1051st Quartermaster Service Group Aviation Company], were to supply food and clothing, and that was it. We, we didn't have--for example, a chaplain of 332nd [332nd Fighter Group; 332nd Expeditionary Operations Group], because we were--we dealt with food and clothing. We needed a warehouse made out of brick. And they put us in brick warehouses, and we worked out of these warehouses. We tried tents, but tents would not do it. So we worked out of a brick environment. And because we worked out of a brick environment, we were isolated from the airfield. They had to come to us, and the chaplain seldom came to us. So I started, you know what? A Sunday school class, and every Sunday morning I would have service through my Sunday school class. I kept up with it a little bit too. And the lieutenant came to me one day and said, "You know, we haven't had communion in a long time. Since you teach Sunday school here, can you give us communion?" Well, I thought about it. I'm not a preacher, and I had no authority to give communion, to bless communion. However, in an isolated situation where there is no preacher, and I'm the one teaching Sunday school, I think that I also have the authority to give communion if the men want it. And on those grounds, I'll give you communion. And for the first time in my life, I went out and bought wine, went out and bought wine. And I knew the rituals. I came back, had the cook to cook me some bread that was without salt, broke it up, and had prayer over this. And then I served it to them, and we had communion (laughter). Maybe they'll put me in jail for being a preacher without license (laughter).$I went to the bus station which was three blocks or more away from the church, Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church [Selma, Alabama]. It was closed, locked, I couldn't go in there, but there was a Carter drugstore [Carter Drug Co.] on Broad Street [Selma, Alabama] that a good number of young white men just hung out there and I said, "I'll go there and sit at the counter and ask for ice cream, a Coke [Coca-Cola] or something and wouldn't move." I went there and they were closed. Okay. They're closed, I'll go to the jailhouse, the police headquarters, and that's where I went, to the police headquarters and asked to speak to the police in charge. And he came out with two other police, and I told them, "Sir, my name is Dabney Montgomery [HistoryMaker Dabney N. Montgomery]. I had come here to break segregated laws because it's wrong and it is the will of God that these laws be erased." And there was a fountain for white people only, for color peopled only, another fountain, I went and drank out of that fountain for white people only. He stood right there and said, "This man must be crazy," (laughter). "Take him out." Two cops came, grabbed me by the arm and took me out. I landed on the curb of the street at the jail. That's all. To show you how dangerous this was when the King's [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] movement came to Selma [Alabama], two white men ate at a black restaurant two blocks from that jail and both of them were shot, one was killed.$$Two--$$One died from the wound. Two white men--$$Two white men ate at a black restaurant?$$At a black res--$$Okay.$$Two black from that jail and one was killed, the other received the shots. And I thought at the time that SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] was there. I went to a SNCC movement when King movement was there and they said, "Look, never go out alone and break a segregated law (unclear) and never go at night if you're with a group of people, don't go at night." And there I was at night and alone and the angels of the Lord protected me. Well, as I sat on that curb, a black fellow in an automobile came by and said, "What are you doing out here, son? You don't see people sitting on the curb at night, not in Selma. What can I do for you?" "You can take me home." "Where you live?" "Corner, corner of Green Street and 1st Avenue." So he took me in his car home. When we arrived in front of my house, I noticed a few cars parked out in front of the house and the lights on in the house. All those people in the church had gone to my father's house and told them that Dab is in town breaking segregated laws (laughter). I knocked on the door, my father [Dred Montgomery] came to the door, the old man. "There he is." He opened the door and fell on the knees. They had told him about the experience. "Son, whatever you do, don't do it again. They'll come out and burn the house down; they might kill you, they might kill--we don't know what will happen. Please, son," down on his knee. I never had seen my father on his knees before and he was a fireman for forty years on the Southern railroad [Southern Railway]. Strong man. And I listened to him, and the people all left and words got out that Dab was in town and he was mentally deranged, a little crazy. My father get in a car and he goes up to the police office and tell them that my son is World War II [WWII] veteran and he is shell shocked. He is in town now, don't pay him any attention because he's shell shocked. The police went, "Yeah, that boy was up here. We knew something was wrong with his brain." That's why, for that reason, they didn't whatever they had planned to do.

Herbert Carter

Academic administrator and Tuskegee Airman Herbert E. Carter was born on September 27, 1919 in Amory, Mississippi to parents Willie Ann Sykes Carter and George Washington Carter. He graduated from Tuskegee High School in 1941 and went on to join the United States Army in July of 1942 as a member of the 99th pursuit unit, which was one of the units that became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

While in World War II, he flew seventy-seven combat missions against the German and Italian Air Force in the Northern Africa, Sicilian Italian and European campaigns. The 99th Squadron achieved the outstanding record in Close Tactical Ground Support of the Allied Army. After the war ended, Carter went on to receive his B.S. degree in industrial education in 1955 from Tuskegee University and his M.A. degree in administration and supervision in 1969.

Carter retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force after twenty-six years of commissioned service in 1969. After his retirement, he served at Tuskegee University as Associate Dean of Student Services and Administration until 1985, and continued to visit troops who were deployed overseas.

On June 6, 2006, Carter received the Chevalier Legion of Honor, France’s highest honor and most prestigious award. The award was presented to him by Jacques Chirac, former President of the French Republic, for his outstanding service during the liberation of France during World War II. In March 2007, President George W. Bush honored the Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Carter passed away on November 8, 2012 at age 93.

Accession Number

A2007.097

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/18/2007

Last Name

Carter

Schools

Tuskegee Institute High School

Tuskegee Institute Middle School

Tuskegee University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Herbert

Birth City, State, Country

Amory

HM ID

CAR14

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alabama

Birth Date

9/27/1919

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Tuskegee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

11/8/2012

Short Description

Academic administrator and tuskegee airman Herbert Carter (1919 - 2012 ) flew seventy-seven combat missions with the 99th Fighter Squadron, against the German and Italian Air Force in the Northern Africa, Sicilian Italian and European campaigns of World War II. He received the Chevalier Legion of Honor, France’s highest and most prestigious award for his service during World War II. Carter also served as Associate Dean of Student Services and Administration at Tuskegee University, between 1969 and 1985.

Employment

United States Air Force

Tuskegee University

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:5040,71:9400,99:10388,113:11072,124:11604,132:26950,288:28006,301:30294,331:36217,377:36961,386:37891,398:38542,407:41536,422:42614,434:43104,440:45946,477:46730,487:50087,504:64668,772:65214,780:66493,831:66777,836:68126,859:74173,933:74997,943:79780,983:87535,1057:89830,1076:94920,1101:96207,1115:98599,1128:116836,1280:124248,1392:151085,1643:151904,1654:171294,1843:172005,1853:175370,1863:196650,2093:201992,2119:203216,2128:204100,2142:207308,2165:207998,2171:212570,2239:214370,2245:221274,2359:223120,2372$0,0:949,8:1752,22:2409,32:4380,70:8350,132:8750,137:9150,142:9650,148:12444,164:12960,171:13648,180:14250,189:37884,456:39710,464:40466,475:41474,490:42062,500:43238,520:54503,611:54947,616:55391,621:56168,629:60760,654:63170,676:64120,687:67342,723:67786,730:77600,820:78645,841:79785,855:83224,876:83880,886:84208,891:85438,910:86504,924:90768,982:96476,1018:97870,1036:98198,1041:111362,1141:111772,1147:112428,1157:116581,1189:117649,1206:118005,1211:118450,1217:121738,1247:122882,1263:123498,1274:132404,1361:132740,1366:137050,1383:137950,1393:138400,1429:138850,1435:147870,1620:148790,1629:155660,1675:157410,1701
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Herbert Carter's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Herbert Carter lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Herbert Carter describes his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Herbert Carter describes his grandparents and ancestors

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Herbert Carter describes his childhood in Alabama and Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Herbert Carter describes his community in Amory, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Herbert Carter describes his early family life

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Herbert Carter remembers moving to Tuskegee, Alabama to attend high school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Herbert Carter remembers growing up during the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Herbert Carter remembers Tuskegee Institute High School in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Herbert Carter recalls his studies at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Herbert Carter remembers meeting his wife at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Herbert Carter remembers joining the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Herbert Carter remembers his flight missions during World War II, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Herbert Carter remembers his flight missions during World War II, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Herbert Carter describes his career path after World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Herbert Carter reflects on the brotherhood of his fellow Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Herbert Carter remembers his fellow Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Herbert Carter recalls Charles Edward McGee and Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Herbert Carter remembers General Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Herbert Carter describes his duties in the U.S. Air Force after World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Herbert Carter recalls retiring from the U.S. Air Force to become a professor

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Herbert Carter describes his work recruiting youth for aerospace careers

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Herbert Carter describes the operations of the 99th Pursuit Squadron

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Herbert Carter reflects upon the honors he received as a Tuskegee Airman

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Herbert Carter shares his message to future generations

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Herbert Carter describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Herbert Carter describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Herbert Carter narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

7$6

DATitle
Herbert Carter remembers his flight missions during World War II, pt. 2
Herbert Carter describes his work recruiting youth for aerospace careers
Transcript
Up to now the myth was that the black man didn't have the agility, the dexterity, physiological or psychological ability to operate something as complicated as an aircraft due to his birth heritage and his cultural background. But these men there over in Anzio [Italy] including myself, demonstrated that race, creed or color has nothing to do with one's ability, if they are properly trained and given an opportunity to demonstrate their training, and this we did. And as a result of that we now have three more squadrons that have been trained in America and they were sent to Italy, so we have the 99th [99th Pursuit Squadron], the 100th [100th Fighter Squadron], the 301st [301st Fighter Squadron] and the 302nd [302nd Fighter Squadron], and which made up the 332nd Fighter Group [332nd Expeditionary Operations Group]. Not only that, but we get a new airplane, the P-47 [Republic P-47 Thunderbolt], and we get a new mission, which was escorting long range bombers which were coming out of North Africa and southern Italy going into southern Europe, bombing logistical targets, oil refineries, manufacturing plants. One mission was 1600 miles from Burma to Italy, Italy to Berlin [Germany], and back, to escort bombers who were going to bomb the Daimler-Benz tank factory there in Berlin. And by now we're flying P-51s [North American Aviation P-51 Mustang], that's the Mustang that everybody fell in love with because it was a top-notch fighter. And in escorting those bombers, the men were so good at protecting them that the bombers started referring to them as the Red-Tail Angels, and that was because for identification we had decided to paint the tails of all fifty-two--all seventy-two of those P-51s red and we were--our symbol was the Red Tails so the bomber pilots called us the Red-Tail Angels. And by war's end, we had destroyed some four hundred German aircraft, 150 or so in the air, another 250 on the ground. We had lost sixty-six men, another thirty-three had been shot down but taken prisoners of war, but we got them back after the war [World War II, WWII] was over. The men had earned some 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, nearly seven hundred and something air medals and all other such type medals for their performance and proficiency in combat, and Colonel Davis [Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.], by now, had been promoted to a full colonel.$Besides working as an associate dean, I know that you visited troops, different troops. Want to talk about that?$$Well that's what I've been doing primarily, just before retiring from the university [Tuskegee Institute; Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama] and since retiring, since '85 [1985] up until now.$$Until now, okay (laughter).$$I spend my time trying to inspire and motivate our young people toward aerospace careers, giving them examples of success stories of people who did make that choice and who have done well in it, and what are the advantages and some of the spinoffs. And then trying to help them prepare themselves to be able to make that decision by suggesting that they have to start at least by middle school and take their math and their science and stay academically active and involved if they are going to be successful in this life. And then trying to stay abreast of all the opportunities that are out there for them to help them financially with scholarships and whatever else they might need to get into college, or to get admitted to one of the academies where it won't cost them anything. And I get a great amount of satisfaction when I, four years from a date, see some young person that I know that I had something to do with their decision to, one, pursue an aerospace career and second, that they have finished, they have their degree and they have their rank, or they went to the Air Force Academy [United States Air Force Academy, Colorado] or they went to West Point [United States Military Academy, West Point, New York], and I influenced them in some way toward a [U.S.] military career. And that's what I do now, for my own satisfaction and pleasure.

Littleton Mitchell

Association branch executive, civil rights activist, and Tuskegee Airman Littleton Purnell Mitchell was born in the 1920s in Milford, Delaware, to Helen Ann Purnell and George Darnell Mitchell. His advocacy began at age thirteen, when he joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During the late 1930s, he attended Howard High School, the state’s only high school for African Americans. Upon graduation, he spent two years at West Chester University of Pennsylvania on a track scholarship before joining the Tuskegee Airmen during War World II. While he was there, he witnessed the building of the airfield at Tuskegee in 1941. He taught future pilots the art of instrument flying. His duties sent him to the Link Trainer Facilities and Schools in New York, and Chanute Field in Chanute, Illinois, as well as the Base Instrument Command Flying School in Texas. In February 1946, he was discharged from the U.S. Army. Encouraged by his fellow Tuskegee Airmen, Mitchell returned to college, and earned his degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and began a career in the psychiatric treatment of children and civil rights advocacy.

Mitchell led the Delaware State Branches of the NAACP as president for over thirty years until 1991. During his years there, he led their efforts to secure fair housing, equal access to public accommodations, and equal education and employment opportunities for Delaware’s African American community. He became the first African American teacher of white children at Governor Bacon Health Center in Delaware City. He retired from teaching in 1984. His wife, Jane Mitchell, now deceased, became one of Delaware’s first African American nurses. For many years, she served as the director of nursing at the Delaware State Hospital and along with her husband led efforts to desegregate the state’s hospitals.

Mitchell served on the Delaware Humanities Council from 1991 to 1997. In 1993, the University of Delaware awarded Mitchell its Medal of Merit for sustained community service. He was also awarded the Delaware Bar Association’s 2004 Liberty Bell Award for community service. For the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Commission, he served as a presidential appointee representing Delaware.

Mitchell resided in Delaware City, Delaware, with his family until his death on July 6, 2009.

Littleton Purnell Mitchell was interview by the HistoryMakers on December 19, 2005.

Accession Number

A2005.267

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/19/2005

Last Name

Mitchell

Maker Category
Middle Name

Purnell

Schools

Howard High School

Delaware State University

West Chester University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Littleton

Birth City, State, Country

Milford

HM ID

MIT08

Favorite Season

Christmas

Sponsor

Discover Financial Services

State

Delaware

Favorite Vacation Destination

Vermont

Favorite Quote

A Man's Most Precious Possession Is His Integrity.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Delaware

Birth Date

11/27/1918

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Delaware City

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Three-Layer Yellow Cake

Death Date

7/6/2009

Short Description

Association branch executive, tuskegee airman, and civil rights activist Littleton Mitchell (1918 - 2009 ) led the Delaware State Branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as president for over thirty years until 1991 and was the first African American teacher of white children at Governor Bacon Health Center in Delaware City.

Employment

United States Army Air Forces. Fighter Group, 332nd.

Governor Bacon Health Center

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Tan

Timing Pairs
0,0:6775,139:9286,172:9654,177:12966,228:13794,239:26089,507:26818,527:27304,534:30790,562:31078,567:32446,636:33454,658:34030,667:34966,685:42166,860:47206,965:48070,986:48358,991:48646,996:50950,1048:60838,1132:67999,1265:68384,1271:78875,1423:79400,1432:80825,1456:81125,1461:81425,1466:83600,1497:84425,1514:84725,1519:85175,1531:85550,1537:85850,1542:88775,1606:93000,1625:99338,1761:102249,1844:103953,1880:104521,1891:104805,1903:109328,1985:111967,2020:112695,2033:113150,2042:113514,2047:114515,2062:115516,2079:128114,2257:128544,2263:129060,2270:130006,2284:130436,2290:136056,2349:136560,2358:136992,2366:142536,2494:143040,2503:143400,2509:143760,2515:151980,2602:152700,2619:153120,2628:153540,2637:153780,2642:154080,2648:154320,2655:157618,2682:165408,2725:166101,2734:177282,2893:177630,2901:177920,2907:178210,2913:179704,2922:180232,2930:180960,2941$0,0:8772,265:9396,275:10254,288:10566,293:12204,325:13140,339:17012,365:17544,373:28802,678:34022,734:38308,822:40660,837:42900,850:43910,861:46030,899:46953,915:56360,1022:57080,1032:57560,1039:65160,1216:66040,1229:86850,1553:87250,1559:92027,1636:99570,1741:100038,1749:100350,1754:100662,1759:100974,1764:102456,1804:108384,1938:110568,2002:110880,2007:111348,2014:118399,2212:149582,2577:150194,2585:156008,2681:156416,2686:160932,2731:161604,2740:162024,2746:172437,2961:173900,2990:174362,2998:175055,3011:175594,3019:181004,3066:182391,3095:182683,3100:188995,3195:193492,3237:194394,3251:194968,3260:223110,3753:224300,3779:224580,3784:225280,3827:225560,3832:231440,3941:239098,3997:245700,4101:246294,4113:254700,4223
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Littleton Mitchell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Littleton Mitchell lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Littleton Mitchell describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his father, Littleton Van Mitchell

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Littleton Mitchell describes his mother, Helen Purnell Mitchell

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Littleton Mitchell recounts his earliest memory of racism

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Littleton Mitchell remembers an altercation with his mayor while growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Littleton Mitchell reflects upon his early response to racism

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Littleton Mitchell recalls his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his trip to Spain, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his trip to Spain, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Littleton Mitchell describes Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his college aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Littleton Mitchell recalls his experience at West Chester State Teacher's College

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his probation at West Chester State Teachers College

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his favorite professor at West Chester State Teachers College

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Littleton Mitchell remembers trying to enlist in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Littleton Mitchell talks about his Native American ancestry

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Littleton Mitchell remembers arriving at Tuskegee Army Airfield

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Littleton Mitchell remembers the racism of white U.S. Air Force instructors

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his training in instrument flying

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Littleton Mitchell remembers fleeing Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Littleton Mitchell describes racism in Alabama, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Littleton Mitchell describes racism in Alabama, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Littleton Mitchell recalls tense race relations in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Littleton Mitchell remembers seeing poor treatment of migrant laborers

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Littleton Mitchell remembers advocating for migrant laborers

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Littleton Mitchell recalls his hiring at Delaware City's Governor Bacon Health Center

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Littleton Mitchell remembers teaching at Delaware City's Governor Bacon Health Center

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Littleton Mitchell remembers taking leadership classes with the NAACP

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Littleton Mitchell remembers Wilmington, Delaware after Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Littleton Mitchell describes his relationship with Governor Charles L. Terry, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Littleton Mitchell remembers exposing Governor Charles L. Terry, Jr.'s racism

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Littleton Mitchell talks about fighting segregation in Delaware

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Littleton Mitchell remembers fighting for integrated hospitals in Delaware

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Littleton Mitchell remembers helping a migrant laborer

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Littleton Mitchell remembers rescuing a boy from a migrant labor camp

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Littleton Mitchell remembers fighting racist legislation

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Littleton Mitchell reflects upon the struggle for civil rights

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Littleton Mitchell explains how he likes to be identified

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Littleton Mitchell describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Littleton Mitchell reflects upon his legacy and how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Littleton Mitchell reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Littleton Mitchell reflects upon the importance of history

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

2$2

DATitle
Littleton Mitchell remembers arriving at Tuskegee Army Airfield
Littleton Mitchell remembers fighting for integrated hospitals in Delaware
Transcript
So, you arrived at Tuskegee [Tuskegee Army Airfield; Sharpe Field, Tuskegee, Alabama] in what year? Do you remember?$$Oh yeah. It was in December 1941, and I stepped out nine o'clock at night into two-and-a-half inches of mud because we were disillusioned. You see, when I was in West Chester [West Chester State Teachers College; West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, Pennsylvania] and I saw the add about volunteer and serve, there were tennis courts and swimming pools, and more than that, they had some pretty women in there with 'em and they said Tuskegee Institute [Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama] was just shortly a little distance from it and, man, that was all good so I wanted to fly but it was good that I was gonna be down there with these women in the tennis courts and (unclear) swimming. And we got out there and we were twenty-five miles back in the woods from Tuskegee, and there wasn't nothing there but red, red, red clay. And I stepped down into this clay up to my ankles nine o'clock at night, no lights, no nothing, and got into a truck and rode to me. To me, it seemed like ten miles on those four-by-fours that the [U.S.] Army has, all rough, and we were all talking about I want to see what Tuskegee Airfield looks like, and so when we got out of the trucks and looked around, there wasn't any air field. They hadn't built it. They were building it. And we had to sleep in tents. They were tents that were built with a wooden floor that came up to about that high, about three feet high, boarded around, then the rest of it was a tent and in the center was a stove that you could put wooden coal in to keep you warm. That's what we had. And if you didn't have that, then you had to sleep out on the ground. I wasn't one of those lucky people who slept on the ground. I was in the first car, so I slept in the tent. There were some of the guys that had to sleep in pup tents on the ground out that night. But we were in that for about, I would say, about three weeks, three or four weeks, just in that. They were building the Tuskegee, I saw 'em build the runway. To landscape they brought grass in. This was all red mud. They didn't have water there. We had to get the water out of the water trucks that the Army would bring in, and we'd get our water. And we washed ourselves like the guys do when they're out in combat. They gave us a helmet and we'd wash--the helmet--wash our face in the helmet and do it, and we did that for about three weeks until they built it up, and we saw Tuskegee built by the first of us, I mean the most of us--were from the North in that group that I went down with, and we had never seen black craftsmen. This base was built in every way by all black craftsmen. It was McKissack & McKissack, out of Memphis, Tennessee. And it was amazing to see this, and they built it and they had it done in about three months. Then we were there.$The hospitals in this state [Delaware] were segregated. Our NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] got a letter from the [U.S.] Department of Health, Education and Welfare [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] saying, "Tell us about the hospitals in your state and let us know how their treatment for patients are." They were getting federal funds. Well, I had an expert (unclear) with me. My wife [Jane Watson Mitchell], she was director of nurses at State Hospital [Delaware State Hospital, Wilmington, Delaware], so I didn't have to ask anybody. If I go in there, I'm not an expert. I don't know. I can see where patients are, but somebody else--so I have to say, "Is it all right if my wife goes." They said, "Take anybody you wish. Just give us the information. Well, we started at the main places, Wilmington Hospital [Wilmington, Delaware]. The patients in all hospitals in the state were seated black patients in the cellar where the coal is, where they have all the equipment that's going on. The patients were in the cellar. If you had the mumps, you were in the cellar. If you had given birth to a child, you were in the cellar. There was no segregation according to what your ailment was. You were there if you were black. You were just in there. If there wasn't any room for you, you were in the hallway. For instance, down at the Milford Hospital [Bayhealth Milford Memorial Hospital, Milford, Delaware], my home, when we went there, the patients down in the cellar, one per room was right next to where the coal bin was. They used the coal for the furnace and when that patient would sit up in bed, if he sat up suddenly he'd hit his head on the pipes going above him. This is what they were like. Or a patient would be out in the hallway right there with plenty of room upstairs, so when we went down there, the place that really, really changed, we went to Beebe hospital [Beebe Medical Center] down in Lewes, Delaware. I had this letter from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. I always liked to have an ace in the hole. I liked you to run yourself up on it and you don't know what I got, and then you tell me no, then I'll pull my ace out, or I don't tell 'em--come here for a second--I said, "I would like to look and see how your patients, Negro patients, are treated here and I'd like to see how, what kind of treatment they're getting." The director of nurses told me, "No, we can't do anything like that." I said, "Well, where is the director of the hospital, because I would like to know exactly--you get federal funds and I want to know how patients are," so my wife takes over from there, "Jane Mitchell, director of nurses at Delaware State Hospital, and we're here to look at this." "Well, I can't do that." "Oh," I said, "Are you sure you can't just let me go see? Oh," I said, "Well, read this, then, and see what you think about that." They'd read that letter where it said we want to know how our federal funds are being spent and you will give us the information as to whether we will keep the score. She said, "Oh, my goodness, I better get Dr. Beebe [ph.]." I said, "It's all right with me." So, Dr. Beebe was also a member of the board of trustees of one of the banks. Said, "He's in a bank meeting." I said, "Get him out, get him out, or else I'm gonna have a long thing for you." They got him out and he comes down and she said, "This is Mr. [HistoryMaker Littleton Mitchell] and Mrs. Mitchell, and they want to visit our hospital." He said, "Well, you know they can't do it." She said, "Dr. Beebe, you better read this first." He read it and he said, "Take 'em through." So we looked and it was the same there. They were down in the cellar, pipes with their heads where they come up and sit up, when they sat up to eat the meal, they did like this to keep from hitting their head on the pipe. They had to go back down like that. So, my statement was, "Within one month, we want the (unclear) integrated." He said, "Oh, I don't know whether we can do that." We went back in one month; they were integrated, every hospital in the state. Federal funds, that's what it does. Federal funds.

Rusty Burns

Tuskegee Airman and flight instructor Rusty Burns was born Isham Albert Burns, Jr. on July 24, 1925 in Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana. Burns developed his love for aviation in the fifth grade at Corpus Christi Catholic School. In 1939, he moved to Los Angles, California with his family where he studied aeronautics at Jordon High School. At age sixteen, he worked at Burbank Airport while learning about aircraft, theory of flight, navigation and meteorology. In 1942, Burns passed the federal aviation exam. After receiving his diploma in 1943, he was inducted into the United States Army at Fort MacArthur and was sent to Kessler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi. After completing basic training, he became a certified pre-aviation cadet.

Burns received his aviation training at Tuskegee Institute and Air Base where he graduated in 1944 as a single engine pilot making him one of the youngest of the Tuskegee Airmen. During his time at the Tuskegee Institute, he received twelve hours of college classes a day in addition to his training as a soldier. Burns trained on several aircrafts including the BT-13 and the AT-6. He successfully completed his training in September of 1944 and became a member of the 99th Fighter Squadron at Godman’s Field in Kentucky. Burns’ military career ended in June of 1945 as World War II ended. He returned to Los Angeles and joined the United States Postal Service where he worked for nine years.

Burns returned to aviation after buying and rebuilding his own airplane. In 1955, he opened Rusty’s Flying Service and began giving flight instruction, at Compton Airport. He became one of the only Tuskegee Airmen in Los Angeles to return to an aviation career. He trained over five hundred students before selling his business in 1971 to become an aviation consultant. He consulted for several companies in the private sector including Teledyne, Rocketdyne, Rockwell and North American Airlines. He retired in 1988 after developing a travel service program for the United States’ government.

Burns lives with his wife in California and has four children including author, Khephra Burns.

Burns was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 7, 2005.

Accession Number

A2005.238

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/7/2005

Last Name

Burns

Middle Name

Albert

Schools

Jordon High School

Corpus Christi Catholic School

Valena C. Jones Elementary School

Fisk High School

George Washington Carver Middle School

David Starr Jordan Senior High School

Pepperdine University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Isham "Rusty"

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

BUR14

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Tahiti

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/24/1925

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Palm Desert

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Red Beans, Rice

Short Description

Flight instructor and tuskegee airman Rusty Burns (1925 - ) received his aviation training at Tuskegee Institute where he graduated in 1944 as a single engine pilot, making him one of the youngest Tuskegee Airmen. He later returned to Los Angeles, and opened Rusty’s Flying Service, giving flight instruction at Compton Airport until 1971, after which he became an aviation consultant.

Employment

U.S. Post Office

Rusty's Flying Service

Teledyne Technologies

Aeroject Rockedyne

North American Airlines

Favorite Color

Tan

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Rusty Burns' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Rusty Burns lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Rusty Burns describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Rusty Burns describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Rusty Burns describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Rusty Burns describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Rusty Burns lists the schools he attended

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Rusty Burns remembers his parents separating

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Rusty Burns remembers earning money as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Rusty Burns remembers going to the theater on Saturdays

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Rusty Burns remembers sneaking into New Orleans' segregated Saenger Theatre

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Rusty Burns remembers a racist incident in the 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Rusty Burns describes Southern segregation in the 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Rusty Burns recalls his childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Rusty Burns describes the racial makeup of New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Rusty Burns describes his education in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Rusty Burns remembers his early interest in aviation

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Rusty Burns remembers moving to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Rusty Burns describes his family's occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Rusty Burns remembers deciding to enlist in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Rusty Burns remembers gaining weight to enter the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Rusty Burns remembers training at Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Rusty Burns describes his aviation training at Tuskegee Institute, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Rusty Burns describes his aviation training at Tuskegee Institute, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Rusty Burns remembers graduating from flight school in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Rusty Burns remembers his idol, fighter pilot Wendell O. Pruitt

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Rusty Burns remembers experiencing racism as a black Air Force officer

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Rusty Burns remembers going to Walterboro, South Carolina for fighter transition

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Rusty Burns describes the Freeman Field mutiny

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Rusty Burns remembers being discharged from the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Rusty Burns remembers rebuilding his own airplane

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Rusty Burns describes his instructors at Tuskegee Army Airfield

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Rusty Burns remembers starting his own flight school, Rusty's Flying Service

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Rusty Burns remembers working for Teledyne Technologies

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Rusty Burns remembers working for Aerojet Rocketdyne

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Rusty Burns describes his family

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Rusty Burns remembers attending Pepperdine University in Malibu, California

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Rusty Burns describes his marriage to Treneta Burns

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Rusty Burns describes his social life

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Rusty Burns reflects upon the progress of African American pilots

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Rusty Burns reflects on missed opportunities to mentor black youth in aviation

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Rusty Burns describes his involvement with the Los Angeles chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Rusty Burns talks about young African Americans in the field of aviation

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Rusty Burns reflects upon the history of the Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Rusty Burns remembers the Watts Riots

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Rusty Burns recalls his proudest moment

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Rusty Burns reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Rusty Burns describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Rusty Burns reflects upon hip hop and youth culture

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Rusty Burns talks about his son, Kephra Burns' play, 'Tall Horse'

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Rusty Burns describes his plans for the future

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
Rusty Burns describes his aviation training at Tuskegee Institute, pt. 1
Rusty Burns remembers starting his own flight school, Rusty's Flying Service
Transcript
We were talking about, you're at the institute [Tuskegee Institute; Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama], you're taking twelve hours of classes and being trained as a soldier, or--continue.$$I would be remiss if I didn't relate part of this journey to you, because it's our--part of our history. Every airman knows the name Chehaw [Alabama], C-H-E-E-H-A-W [sic.]. When we got--when we were on the train going to Tuskegee [Alabama], there was no place there, no train station for us to go to. We didn't go to Montgomery [Alabama] like most people did and find another way. We went to a little, small outhouse-looking building somewhere in the middle of nowhere called Chehaw. And this is where all the Tuskegee Airmen came on the train, this is where you got off the train at. So if you say, "Chehaw" to any Tuskegee Airman, it's going to bring a chuckle, because we've made jokes about Chehaw for all our time. Anyway, we went to the institute. And I believe Dr. Carver [George Washington Carver] at the time. And we were taking college classes. We were going to classes much the same as the students that were. And we got a pre-aviation cadet training. We got ten hours in a Piper Cub [Piper J-3 Cub]. You don't solo. You just get ten hours of flight training. The instructors were all black. They were all CPT [Civilian Pilot Training] training people. And this was kind of to get an orientation or a feel for whether you had the potential for beginning a pilot or not. I don't know that anybody failed to get through there, but you either got a recommendation for or against. And if you got one that said, "I don't think this guy can make it," you weren't going very far, you know. But if you got one that said, "Oh, I think he'll make a great pilot," then you--the way was paved slightly for you. So we were there, and I'm not sure I'm gonna get the timeframes exactly right, but we were there in January, but we stayed there, and I'm gonna say January and February, and then in April, May, June--January, February, March, April--no, February, March. At one point in time, they took us out of this pre-aviation cadet program and put us into the Army Air Corps Cadet Training Program, the first phase of what is preflight. And if I remember correctly, each phase was like maybe six weeks or something of that nature. You had upper and lower phases. And the phases were preflight, primary, basic and advanced, and that's when you graduated. These were the phases. And it was a year all together the whole program was a year. In backing up I can go December, November, October for advanced; September, August and July for basic, which sounds about right; July, June, May, April for primary. So it was January, February, March for preflight. You go through the preflight, and then it was April, May, June for primary. Primary was done at--not the Tuskegee Air Base [Tuskegee Army Airfield; Sharpe Field, Tuskegee, Alabama]--primary was done at the institute. We had a field called Moton Field [Tuskegee, Alabama], and that's where we did our primary in PT-17s [PT-17 Stearman]. We were fortune in that the government had some airplanes called Fairchild 19s [Fairchild PT-19 Cornell]; Fairchild 26 [Fairchild PT-26 Cornell] (unclear). They went from the PT-17, which was a gorgeous airplane, beautiful airplane; for some reason they went to this low-wing, wide landing gear, and I think it was because of the landing characteristics of the PT-17 had a tendency to ground loop because of the narrow gear. So they went to this low-wing airplane with the main landing gear with an inline engine to improve the potential for--to minimize a potential for--for accidents. It didn't work. It wasn't a good airplane. So we go back to the PT-17. About the time I went to primary, they went back to the PT-17, which was--I can be most grateful for that, because it was--I just loved that airplane. It was a--it was just an airplane that, you know, the wind-in-your-hair type thing, you know; Gosport tubes, talk to the instructor; sitting in an open cockpit with that radial engine in front, you know, with the two wings; do anything you want. The airplane would just--it had no limitations. So we had--I had three wonderful--upper and lower primary.$So we're in L.A. [Los Angeles, California], you and Paul [Paul Anderson] have identical planes (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah. Yeah.$$Parked side by side.$$This goes on. I build a second airplane, I take it out to the airport, and Paul and I decide to go into business together, rent a hanger [at Compton/Woodley Airport, Compton, California], you know. This is unheard of in the--except in Chicago [Illinois].$$What year is this now?$$This is '55 [1955].$$Fifty-five [1955].$$So Woodley [Earl Woodley] agrees to give us--to rent us a hanger. We got a beautiful hanger. He and I went into business. B 'nAir Service [ph.], Burns and Anderson; and we stayed together for about a year. And it was kind of a complicated thing. We didn't have one business that we were partners in. We had two businesses competing in the same hanger, which is very difficult to do. So at the end of about a year, we decided it was best that we went our separate ways. So, since he had been there first, he kept this hanger, I went to Woodley and got another hanger, and I started Rusty's Flying Service two or three hangers down. And that went from '55 [1955] to 1970. And I had a very good career. I quit the post office when went into business on the airport. But I still worked some part time. I still worked somewhat at North American [North American Airlines]. I eventually had to quit North American and work full time at the airport because the business grew, you know. I had really a tremendous business, therefore (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Who were you teaching?$$--like ten years. Huh?$$Who were you teaching? Who were your students?$$Everybody. White, blacks, males, females. There was no--I had probably as many white students as I had black ones.$$Probably didn't start out that way, though.$$Yes. It did.$$Did it?$$Yes. It started out that way.$$Okay. Because '55 [1955] was a big year. Rosa Parks.$$Yeah. But we weren't having (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) You were removed from$$Yeah.$$But, I mean, like, because Rosa Parks was in '55 [1955]; also, Emmett Till. That stuff was happening in the South. Were you pretty far removed from that being in the West?$$Yes. Yes. We had black guys going to the white schools, and white guys coming to the black schools. It was either whose price or whose or who, you know, whoever you took a liking to, see. Well, I had probably all together, maybe probably around five hundred students, that's in my years there. So I did not have a problem with discrimination or bias in business that I know of. My instructors, I had three or four instructors, they were all white. The only black instructor I had took up next door and started his own business, see. So--and there weren't too many black instructors to begin with. Not a lot of our guys come out of Tuskegee [Tuskegee Army Airfield; Sharpe Field, Tuskegee, Alabama] took to aviation for some reason, you know. I was surprised that probably in L.A., and I'm sure this is in other--not another one of our guys that I know of ever had gotten in an airplane again, you know. There's a lot of ties there. I'm sure that may not be exactly true, but I don't know of any who did, you know. No guys who kept their license current.

Lt. Col. Charles Dryden

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.

Accession Number

A2004.169

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/20/2004

Last Name

Dryden

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

W.

Occupation
Organizations
Search Occupation Category
First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

DRY01

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Walgreens

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

Feed The Children, Teach The Children.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

9/16/1920

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Red Beans, Rice

Death Date

6/24/2008

Short Description

Tuskegee airman Lt. Col. Charles Dryden (1920 - 2008 ) was named a member of the famed 99th Pursuit Squadron, and later the 332 Fighter Group, which served in the Mediterranean during World War II. Dryden led a flight of six pilots engaging enemy fighter aircrafts 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 aircrafts in combat.

Employment

United States Army Air Corps

Howard University

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Sky Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes how he achieved his dream of becoming a pilot in the U.S. military during World War II
Lt. Col. Charles Dryden describes his most disappointing experience in the U.S. military
Transcript
And what happened next?$$Well, while I was at [The] City College [of New York, New York, New York], there was a program called the Civilian Pilot Training Program, started by the [U.S.] Congress under the urgings of Colonel [Charles] Lindbergh, Lucky Lindy, who flew across the Atlantic [Ocean] by himself. And he had been visiting Europe just around the time that the Nazis began to invade all over Europe. And he came back to the [United] States, and he notified everybody what he observed there. What he observed is that the Germans had, in spite of the Versailles Treaty [sic. Treaty of Versailles], which ended World War I [WWI], which denied Germany any kind of military organization, Army, Navy, Air Force, whatever. But they were surreptitiously building an Air Force, a corps, a large corps of aviation qualified people as The Hitler Youths. They were teaching them to fly like Boy Scouts were flying. But what he was doing really was forming the beginning of the Luftwaffe for Germany, because when they outwardly declared war, these civilian pilots all put on uniforms as a German Air Force, qualified pilots. They had more qualified pilots than any country in the world. This country had had pilots in the air corps of World War I, but because of the Atlantic on the east and the Pacific [Ocean] on the west, Americans had a false sense of security. We're safe. Nobody'll ever hit this (unclear). They're fighting over in Europe, they're fighting in Asia; nobody's gonna attack here. Because no one had the foresight to realize that air power could go around the world ultimately, as you know. But it was in its infancy that--well, when Lindbergh reported what he had observed, the Congress decided to fund training programs on college campuses all around the country, including five of the historically black colleges [and universities, HBCUs]: Tuskegee [Normal and Industrial Institute; Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama], Howard [University, Washington, D.C.], Hampton [Institute; Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia], West Virginia State [College; West Virginia State University, Institute, West Virginia], Lincoln. And so I was at City, which is not a black college, but I was able to get into the program there. And the program ended up with a pilot license, a private pilot license. So when I finished the program and received my license, it was the beginning of achievement of an ultimate dream of being a [U.S.] military pilot. So when Tuskegee was open--excuse me--when the [U.S.] Army Air Corps, under the pressures of our black press newspapers and our leaders like Walter White and A. Philip Randolph and Mary McLeod Bethune, who was a close friend of [First Lady] Eleanor Roosevelt (unclear)--and they brought so much pressure, that the Congress decided to--well, it didn't go that way. President [Franklin Delano] Roosevelt directed the United States Army Corps to begin accepting applications from blacks. And I applied, and I was assigned to the second class that went through flight training. And, of course, I benefitted from the fact that I had, before going to Tuskegee, I had gotten my pilot's license in New York from City College. So that made my career in cadet training rather easy. There were a lot of guys who went through it who had never had any training, they made it anyway. So, as I say, we ended up with 992, who earned their wings through the whole war. So that's the biggest benefit that I got from City College, even though I didn't get my degree. And I had to wait for a few years later, came back from Korea [Korean War] and finished college. But that was a--that's the biggest benefit I got from City College--$The bottom was the other end of the pendulum. It happened after I had been overseas with my squadron, 99th [Fighter Squadron] for five months. Seven others and myself were sent back to the [United] States to be instructors at--well, at Selfridge [Air National Guard Base], Michigan, outside of Detroit [Michigan], to teach the guys who were being trained for the 332nd Fighting Crew [sic. 332nd Fighter Group]--we had three squadrons: The 100th, the 301st and 302nd. And they were supposed to go overseas, pick up the 99th, which had been overseas for a year by that time, and become a four-squadron group. There was--the only one, and they had four squadrons. So it was our job, the eight of us, to teach them what we had learned fighting the Germans for five months overseas in the air. And the eight of us ended up at the short stay at Selfridge, Michigan, where we tried to integrate the Officer's Club. We were told, "Don't come in here. It's for whites only." So we tried five nights in a row, different ones of us, because each time one of us went into the club, we were told not to come in as a direct order. To disobey a direct order at peacetime is flirting with a jail sentence. To do so in wartime--and, of course, the war was on--you're flirting with the possibility of being shot by a firing squad, because to disobey an order from a superior officer is treason, and you could be shot to death for that. So, five different groups of us did that, different nights. And, finally, there was so much uproar in the press and so forth that the base commander had to close the club to everybody, whites and blacks alike. So we thought we'd won a victory. But it didn't work that way. The commanding general, Frederick Odistral [ph.], on a base in (unclear), New York, moved the whole training unit from Selfridge, Michigan, to Walterboro [Army Airfield, Walterboro], South Carolina, about fifty miles west of Charleston [South Carolina]. On that base, there were German prisoners of war who could do things we couldn't do. They were the enemy. We had been fighting Germans. We lost a couple of our buddies in air in combat, and yet, in our country, prisoners of war, who were Germans, could do things we couldn't do. They could sit anywhere in the base theater. We had to sit in the segregated colored section. They could go into the BX [Base Exchange] cafeteria, and we couldn't even go in the building. I became--it's difficult for me to talk about it even now--(pause). I became so enraged, outraged that our country would treat us worse than they treat the enemy just because of color.

Roscoe C. Brown

Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., was born March 9,1922, in Washington, D.C. Brown was the youngest of two children, his father working as a public health specialist and his mother as a teacher. After graduating from Springfield College in 1943, Brown joined the Air Force, where he served as one of the Tuskegee Airmen. During World War II, he served as a squadron commander and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Returning after the war in 1946, Brown attended New York University, where he earned an M.A. in 1949 and a Ph.D. in 1951.

Before Brown earned his master's degree, he worked as a social investigator with the New York City Department of Welfare and as an instructor in physical education at West Virginia State College until 1948. While working on his doctorate in 1950, he became the director of the Institute of Afro-American Affairs and a professor of education at New York University, where he remained for the next twenty-seven years. In 1977, Brown was named president of Bronx Community College, a part of the City University of New York (CUNY), and continued there until 1993. Brown served as director of the Center for Urban Education Policy at the Graduate School and University Center of CUNY.

Brown was active with a number of organizations, including more than thirty years of service to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He was also active with the Jackie Robinson Foundation and Libraries for the Future, among many others. Brown was also a founding member of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Active in the media, as well, Brown hosted the television program, African American Legends, and he won the 1973 Emmy Award for Distinguished Program with his weekly series Black Arts. He published numerous articles and contributed to several books, and was the recipient of numerous awards, including the New York City Treasure Centennial Honor from the Museum of the City of New York and the Humanitarian Award from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Brown also completed nine New York City marathons. He had four children.

Brown passed away on July 2, 2016 at age 94.

Accession Number

A2003.215

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/16/2003

Last Name

Brown

Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

C.

Schools

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Springfield College

New York University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Roscoe

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

BRO15

Favorite Season

Fall

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Sag Harbor in Long Island, New York

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/9/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Death Date

7/2/2016

Short Description

Academic administrator and tuskegee airman Roscoe C. Brown (1922 - 2016 ) was the Director of Urban Education Policy at CUNY.

Employment

New York City Department of Social Welfare

West Virginia State College

New York University

Bronx Community College, CUNY

Favorite Color

Blue, Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Roscoe C. Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Roscoe C. Brown lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Roscoe C. Brown describes the class distinctions within the African American community in Washington, D.C. during the 1920s and 1930s

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his father's work in the National Negro Health Movement, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his father's work in the National Negro Health Movement, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Roscoe C. Brown describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his mother's activities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about the expectations for himself and his sister

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about 'Amos 'n' Andy' and other shows based on stereotypes

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Roscoe C. Brown describes his childhood neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about how his childhood was structured and remembers family activities

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Roscoe C. Brown describes his family trips to the South

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Roscoe C. Brown recalls his time at Blanche K. Bruce Elementary School in Washington, D.C. and a childhood friend

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his childhood membership to the 12th Street YMCA in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Roscoe C. Brown describes his religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his father's prominence as a member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Black Cabinet

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about attending Camp Atwater

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about summer camps attended by African Americans

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his activities at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. and entering Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Roscoe C. Brown describes the competitive academic environment at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his father and other African Americans in the Black Cabinet under President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his experience at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about black student enrollment at Oberlin College and Springfield College

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about why he began playing lacrosse

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his experience in Springfield, Massachusetts during college

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about attending summer military camp

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Roscoe C. Brown remembers his post-secondary studies and his interest in merging teaching and health

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Roscoe C. Brown recalls enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Forces

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Roscoe C. Brown explains the Tuskegee Airmen's most significant contribution to World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Roscoe C. Brown remembers several missions completed by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, pt.1

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Roscoe C. Brown remembers several missions completed by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Roscoe C. Brown considers the source of his professional ambitions

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Roscoe C. Brown recalls being discriminated against as he applied for a job after returning home from service in World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his career trajectory after exiting the service and earning his Ph.D.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about completing his Ph.D. degree at New York University and the birth of his twin sons in 1951

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Roscoe C. Brown recalls prominent African Americans in New York and at New York University in the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about leveraging the murder of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to boost black student enrollment at New York University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about the decrease in black professors at New York University since his time there

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about the number of black alumni from New York University as compared to those from HBCUs

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about developing curriculum on African American history

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Roscoe C. Brown recalls how he became president of Bronx Community College in New York, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Roscoe C. Brown details the history of community colleges

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about trends in higher education

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Roscoe C. Brown describes the work that needs to be done to improve higher education

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about coalition politics

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his writing and describes the Negro Almanac

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his black culture quiz and the necessity of context beyond stand-alone facts

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Roscoe C. Brown describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Roscoe C. Brown reflects upon the factors that contributed to his success

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Roscoe C. Brown reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Roscoe C. Brown reflects upon how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Roscoe C. Brown narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

11$2

DATitle
Roscoe C. Brown remembers several missions completed by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, pt.2
Roscoe C. Brown recalls being discriminated against as he applied for a job after returning home from service in World War II
Transcript
The mission that got you the notoriety, can you just describe what happen--$$The Berlin [Germany] mission that's--$$The Berlin mission, right.$$That's the longest mission of the Fifteenth [U.S.] Air Force, 1,600 miles roundtrip, from Southern Italy to Berlin and return. And it was toward the end of the war, and we were given the assignment along with several other fighter groups of escorting the B-17s over, over Berlin. And when we got close to Berlin, I was leading my squadron, and I saw some jet planes streaking up, which were about a hundred miles faster than ours. And I said to my pilots who were with me to drop your extra fuel tanks so we can get maneuverability and follow me. So I turned upside down and went down--the bombers were here--went down under the bombers with my pilots here. The jets were coming in over here, and they made a hard right turn. And I climbed up, and I got the jet just as he was about to shoot down the bomber plane. The jet blew up, and he bailed out. And my wingman faced a couple of other guys down, shot them down, and we shot down the first three jets over Berlin. And that allowed us to win the Presidential Unit Citation. That's, that's a highlight mission of the Tuskegee Airmen. Tuskegee Airmen also had some other fabulous missions. We're the only fighter group to blow up a Destroyer with fighter planes. They were coming back from a mission, and they were flying I think B-20--B-47s. And they shot at this Destroyer, and it so happened they hit the magazine, and the plane blew up, it blew it. We also had great missions to Athens. We liberated the Athens' air, airbase. We probably shot up every, every airbase in Europe, in Southern Europe. We had a tre--tremendous record. We had one ace, Lee Archer, who's my best friend today. He shot down five planes. And Clarence Lester shot down three planes. And Harry Stewart shot down three planes. And we altogether shot down 111 planes. We destroyed about 120 on the ground, and had this outstanding combat record of never having lost a bomber that we were escorting to enemy fighters. That's really what we're known for.$But what I'm also saying is that you did have your minutes of fame when you returned, right?$$They were very short because my, my favorite story is that when I got back I was going to try to fly in the airlines before I went to graduate school. And I went to Eastern Air Lines on 5th, 5th Avenue [New York, New York] and filled this application with all of my hours and so on. And as I was going out the door, I had forgotten a New York Times I had brought with me. I was looking at the want ads, and so I went back to get the Times, and the secretary, white secretary, was throwing the application in the waste basket. And her face got red, and she said, "I'm sorry, we don't hire Negroes here." So my--(unclear)--welcome back to the good old U.S.A. So you can't get too high when, you know, the rest of the world--see, you can be high inside, but you realize the mountain you still have yet to climb. And that's why I became active in the American Veterans Association [ph.], which was the, the liberal veterans organization. I became active in politics, the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], and the Henry Wallace campaign, and the, and the unions, because that's the way you bring about social change. You, you can't bring about social change just by yourself.

Joseph Gomer

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.

Accession Number

A2002.140

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/12/2002

Last Name

Gomer

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Iowa Falls High School

Alden High School

Ellsworth Community College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Joseph

Birth City, State, Country

Iowa Falls

HM ID

GOM01

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

Iowa

Favorite Vacation Destination

Birch Lake, Minnesota

Favorite Quote

Once you've been shot at by real bullets, pop guns don't bother you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Minnesota

Birth Date

6/20/1920

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Minneapolis/St. Paul

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Death Date

10/10/2013

Short Description

Tuskegee airman Joseph Gomer (1920 - 2013 ) was a fighter pilot in 99th Pursuit Squadron of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Employment

United States Army Air Corps

United States Forestry Service

Wright Aircraft

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue, Brown

DAStories

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