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Col. Christine Knighton

U.S. Army Colonel Christine B. Knighton was born in Cuthbert, Georgia in 1957. After graduating from Randolph County Comprehensive High School in 1975, she attended Tuskegee Institute and graduated with military honors in 1979. Knighton’s military education includes the Aviation Officer Advanced Course, the UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter Qualification Course, the Combined Arms Staff and Services School, and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Knighton also received her M.A. degree in national security and strategy from the National War College at National Defense University.

Upon graduation from college, Knighton was commissioned a second lieutenant and served briefly in the Quartermaster Corps and the Transportation Officer’s Corps. In 1980, she became the second African American woman in the U.S. Department of Defense and the first woman from the State of Georgia to complete aviation training. Knighton then reported to the U.S. Army V Corps in West Germany where her assignments included that of flight section leader of the 205th Transportation Battalion; platoon leader of the 62nd Aviation Company; and logistics officer of the 11th Aviation Battalion. In 1988, she assumed command of Delta Company, the 227th Aviation Regiment – 1st Cavalry’s Combat Aviation Company, and then served a tour of duty at Camp Stanley in Uijeongbu, South Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division as the Aviation Brigade logistics officer.

Knighton reported to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1990 and was assigned as an aviation logistician for the Combat Structure for the Army Study Group. She then was deployed to Operation Desert Storm with the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) to assess aviation units positioned in Saudi, Kuwait and Iraq. In 1993, Knighton was appointed as commander of Hotel Company in the 159th Aviation Regiment (AVIM) and deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia in support of the United Nations “Operation Continue Hope.” Knighton became the first woman in the U.S. Army to command a tactical combat arms battalion on November 3, 1996 when she was assigned as commander of a Blackhawk Helicopter Battalion in the 1st Cavalry Division and deployed to Tulza, Bosnia-Herzegovina to conduct aviation operations.

Knighton is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Tuskegee Airmen Association, and served as vice president of the Bessie Coleman Foundation. Knighton was nationally recognized by Glamour Magazinein 1989 as one of its “Top 10 Outstanding Working Women in the United States” and appeared on the cover of USA Today. In 1999, Knighton’s Blackhawk Helicopter Battalion was named U.S. Army Aviation Unit of the Year. Her military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the NATO Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal, and the Army’s Senior Aviator Badge. Knighton is also authorized to wear the Office of the Secretary of Defense Staff Badge, and received the Order of Saint Michael which recognized outstanding contributions to U.S. Army Aviation.

U.S. Army Colonel Christine B. Knighton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers in July 26, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.187

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/26/2013

Last Name

Knighton

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

B.

Occupation
Schools

The Broad Academy

Georgetown University

U.S. Army War College

Randolph County Comprehensive High School

Tuskegee University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Christine

Birth City, State, Country

Benevolence

HM ID

KNI01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/23/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweet Potatoes

Short Description

Colonel Col. Christine Knighton (1957 - ) , the second African American woman in the U.S. Department of Defense and the first woman from the State of Georgia to complete aviation training, became the first woman in the U.S. Army to command a tactical combat arms battalion on November 3, 1996.

Employment

Soldier Support Institute

2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, Blackhawk Helicopter Battalion

Army Personnel Command

Hotel Company, 159th Aviation Regiment (AVIM)

8th Aviation Battalion (AVIM), 101st Airborne Division

Aviation Requirements for the Combat Structure for the Army (ARCSA-V) Study Group

United States Army

1st Cavalry Division’s Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Company (AVIM

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Christine Knighton's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton describes the town of Benevolence, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton describes her mother's growing up in Benevolence, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton describes her father's growing up in Georgia, his migration to Philadelphia, and his towing business in New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton describes how her parents met, and talks about their relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Christine Knighton describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton describes her father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about her maternal grandfather going from sharecropper to landowner in Benevolence, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about the first home that her maternal family bought and the lack of amenities in the South during the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about President John F. Kennedy's assassination a few days before her own and Caroline Kennedy's sixth birthday

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about her maternal grandparents' home in Benevolence, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Benevolence, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Benevolence, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton talks about starting school in Stewart County, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton describes her experience in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about her family's first television set, and riding the bus to elementary school in Lupton, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about visiting her father in Philadelphia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton recalls Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience in middle school in Cuthbert, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about state-funded colleges in Georgia while she was growing up, and attending college in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience in high school in Cuthbert, Georgia, and her interest in home economics

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton talks about the Knighton family's talent for basketball

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton talks about her performance in high school and her decision to attend Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Christine Knighton talks about being accepted to Tuskegee Institute, and her first visit to the campus with her family

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton talks about the integration of schools in the seventh grade in Cuthbert, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton describes her decision to join the Army ROTC at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about Lionel Ritchie's relationship with Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience in classes at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton describes her experience in the Army ROTC at Tuskegee Institute, and her training for the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton describes her desire to go to flight school in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton talks about her branch transfer to the U.S. Army Transportation Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton talks about flying helicopters, and doing Ground School Training with Chief Alfred C. Anderson

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton talks about flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton describes her experience at primary flight training

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton describes her experience as an African American woman in advanced flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about the Bell Huey helicopter and her experience flying them

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about graduating from flight school and attending the Tuskegee Airmen Convention in Atlanta in 1980

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about her assignment to the Fifth Corps at Fliegerhorst Kaserne in Hanau, Germany

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about her colleague Marcella Ng's career

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about her reassignment to the 11th Aviation Battalion and her promotion to the ranks of first lieutenant and captain

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton talks about her assignment as the Battalion S4 in the 11th Aviation Battalion

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton describes her experience in the 1st Cavalry at Fort Hood, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton describes her experience as an Aviation Brigade Logistics Officer with the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton talks about her tour in Korea in 1988

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about her service during the Gulf War

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about the challenges posed by a desert environment during the Gulf War

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about women serving in the U.S. Army during the Gulf War

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about the living conditions for military service members during the Gulf War

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about Scud missiles used by the Iraqis during the Gulf War, and their eventual surrender

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about women serving in combat missions and the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" policy in the U.S. Army

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton talks about her service with the 101st Airborne Division

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton talks about her assignment as Company Commander of Hotel Company, 159th Aviation Regiment in Somalia

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton talks about her service at the Army Personnel Command as the assignments officer for Aviation majors and lieutenant colonels

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about getting married and starting a family

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about becoming the first woman in the history of the U.S. Army to command a tactical combat arms battalion

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about the 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation being selected as the Army's Aviation Unit of the Year

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about her service as Assistant Director of Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management in the Office of the Secretary of Defense

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about attending the Army War College

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about becoming a full colonel and her experience in the Office of the Secretary of Defense

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton recalls her experience at the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton recalls her experience at the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton reflects upon lessons learned from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Christine Knighton talks about the Army Married Couples Program, and her assignment to Fort Jackson, South Carolina

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton talks about the changes in policy that allowed women to serve in Ground Combat

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about her service as Chief Learning Officer for the Army Officer Corps

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about retiring from the U.S. Army and attending a Superintendents Training Program

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton describes her service as Chief of Human Resources for Prince George's County Public Schools

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience in leadership coaching and executive coaching

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton reflects upon her life and career

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton reflects upon the large percentage of African American women joining the U.S. Army

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton talks about her family and about balancing her family needs with that of her career

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton discusses her concerns about the legacy of African American women in aviation

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton shares how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$7

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Christine Knighton describes her desire to go to flight school in the U.S. Army
Christine Knighton recalls her experience at the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, pt. 1
Transcript
So, you were assigned as a Second Lieutenant in the [U.S. Army] Quartermaster Corps, right?$$Right. Exactly. So when I got commissioned--when you are in the ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps], you have to choose your branch at the beginning of your senior year. You choose your preferences for a branch. What do you want to do and what do you want to be. And, you know, so by this time, we had cadre at Tuskegee [Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama], which was a first for us. We had some white cadre members. So, this was new, I think in my junior year is when we got our first Commission Officer, Caucasian instructor, right. And we still keep in contact today, right. He was an Army aviator, right. Our PMS, Professor of Military Science was an Army aviator, and we also had another instructor that was--black instructor that was an Army aviator also.$$Now, wait a minute. Now, did they influence you to (laughs)--$$Oh, yeah. Yeah. (laughs)$$--think about aviation?$$Right. Well, what influenced me, when I went to summer camp--you mentioned summer camp, which was at Fort Riley, Kansas, is where we went to summer camp, and that, for me, that was the first time I would have gone--gotten on a commercial airline, right, exactly. So Columbus, Georgia, to Atlanta [Georgia] was one of the small aircraft, right. And I swore I would never get back in an aircraft again if I ever got my feet on the ground just because of the turbulence, right, from Columbus to Atlanta, right. Much larger plane, of course, going into Kansas City, Missouri, out of Atlanta, right, had a much smoother ride, so, okay; we may be able to do this. But at summer camp we were introduced, you know, different branches, right, the artillery, you know, the infantry, which females couldn't go into at that time; but you got an introduction of all the other branches, right. And I got my first ride on a helicopter, right, which was the Chinook CH-47, in the back of that helicopter. So by the time summer camp was over, I came back, and I told my mom [Annie Lee Knighton] I wanted to go to flight school. And she was like, "Okay. This is the person who was not going to get back on the airplane in Atlanta." (laughs) Right. Exactly Right. "And you're telling me now that you want to fly?" Yeah. Exactly. So she said, "If that's something you want to do, then you need to go for it, you know, do it." So with her encouragement, right, and her thumbs up, or seal of approval--when it came to selecting branches, we had--they also said, "Well, what additional training do you want?" And at time, aviation was a branch. It was an additional skill identifier, right, just like airborne. So, "Who wants to go to airborne school? Who wants to do this and who wants to go to flight school?" So when the flight school--when he asked for flight school, my hand went up, right. And everybody else was like, yeah, right (laughs). Exactly. So you would think with the Tuskegee Airmen coming out of Tuskegee you would have had more hands going up. But I think you did on the Air Force ROTC side, just not on the Army ROTC side, yeah, 'cause most people wanted to fly, kind of wanted Air Force ROTC. Right. So, right, the instructor, Major Marshal Ed (ph.) said, "Hey, Ms. Knighton, I need you to stay afterwards." And so I stayed afterwards, and he says, "Don't waste my time." (laughs) Right. "If this is something that you really want to do, you know, I'll help you and we'll pursue it. But, you know, if you're not serious about it, then don't waste my time." So I didn't waste his time.$$Okay. Now history has shown that you have not wasted his time.$$Right (laughs).$Okay, so were you in the Pentagon on 9-11 [September 11th, 2001; terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City, and the U.S. Pentagon]?$$I was in the Pentagon on 9-11; yes, I was.$$Okay.$$Right.$$Tell us your story, what happened?$$I had come to work on, you know, September 11th, just like, you know, every other day. We had--but you know, Tre wasn't--yeah, Tre was still in pre-school then, so he wasn't in school actually. So, right. Every year before that, you know, every year, when--before then, we would visit my in-laws and my dad [Clarence Brown, Sr.] in New Jersey, and we always spent some time in New York. So we had just left the World Trade Center, like, the week before, right, Labor Day Weekend, right, exactly, you know, just doing our normal New York out-and-about touring. So that day was like any other day; come to work, right, at the Pentagon, right, go to your cubicle, drop your stuff; and on this particular day I had a dental appointment, right. So I left my desk, right, went to--was going to my dental appointment, right, was walking by the lab and they had the television on, and you see smoke coming from the World Trade Center. So, you know, I kind of stopped, you know, like, "Okay. Are they showing from the World Trade Center from when, you know, the bomb--." There was a bomb that had gone off there earlier, right, like, a year or so before, right. And then I see 'Live'. This is CNN live. So, it's like, no, this is happening right now. So I go on to my dental appointment, right, and I'm like, you know, the television is on back there, and I'm like, "Oh, my God, you know, what just happened?" And so at this time you didn't know what type of plane had hit the building, so you're thinking maybe it was something smaller than a commercial jetliner. Right, but the commentator is saying--is "No, it was larger than a private plane. It was actually a commercial jetliner. I heard the noise of the plane." Right. And that's what got my attention because we don't have those size planes going, you know, flying over the city. And so my thoughts were, you know, I hope it's not terrorism. And I communicated that to the lady behind the counter, and she's like, "You think it would be terrorism?" But everyone, I think, after [Timothy] McVeigh, and what happened in Oklahoma City [bombing], right, when everyone jumped to the conclusion that it was terrorism right away--nobody wanted to do that because it could have been domestic in nature. So I think everybody was very sensitive about calling stuff terrorism, right, exactly, before you could validate it. And so I said, you know, hey, this is--this is not good. And so I go and I start filling out this--and I--in the meantime, I called my husband [Bennie Williams, Jr.] saying, "Hey, go turn on the television." I called back to my office and said, "You guys need to go next door to the conference room, turn the television on, a plane just flew into the side of, you know, one of the buildings at the World Trade Center." And then I go to filling out my form. And at the same time with the ear on the television, and you hear, "Oh, my God, oh, my God. Here comes another one." Right. And that was where we witnessed on television a second plane flying into the second building. Right. And you're thinking, like, this is probably not a good time to be in a government facility or government building right now, right. But operations continued. This was a short--this was just an annual checkup. I wasn't getting any dental work done. So it's like, okay, let me get this out of the way so I can get back to my building. So I--and I was talking to the dentist, and I'm like, "You know, all right, I think, you know, that this is, you know deliberate. I think that there are more buildings that probably are going to come under attack," not knowing that the Pentagon was a target, right. "And it probably would be a good idea to evacuate government facilities right now." And he's like, "You think so?" (laughs). Yeah. I was like, "Yeah, I think so. Right. I was like, "Well, hurry up so I can get out of here." Right. So we finish up my appointment, and I'm headed back out, and there's a nurse running down the hall, it's like, "Oh, my God. Oh, my God. You guys didn't hear." And I said, "Hear what?" Because the dental clinic is kind of underground, right, in the Pentagon, so you wouldn't hear what happens on the other side of the building. And she says, "We're evacuating the building." I'm like, okay. Good idea. I was like, well, let me go back to my office 'cause my cell phone is there, my purse is there. All I had was my Pentagon badge, right, you know, no head gear or nothing, right, 'cause I was in the--I'm in the building. All right. So I get ready to go back out and the Security Guard is saying, "Nope. Everybody go this way." Right. "Go this way." And, you know, at this time, I'm still thinking we're evacuating because of a precaution. And then there was this lady runs by me and she is like, you know, smoke, right, the clothes are dirty and the whole works, and she's hyperventilating, and I'm like, you know, "What just happened?" And she says, a bomb went off on the other side of the building." Right. Right. So that was my first indication that the Pentagon had actually been hit as we were exiting the building, right.

Lt. Col. Joseph Carpenter

U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Joseph H. Carpenter was born on June 19, 1924 in Washington, D.C. Carpenter graduated from Cardozo High School in June of 1942. He briefly attended George Washington University from 1964 to 1966 where he studied liberal arts before earning a commission with the U.S. Marine Corps as a second lieutenant.

In May of 1943, Carpenter enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps along with thousands of African Americans and completed basic training at the segregated boot camp at Montford Point Camp near Jacksonville, North Carolina. He was promoted to chief clerk in 1945 and became the first African American to be assigned duty at the U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Carpenter separated from the military in 1949 and worked as a civil servant in various government positions. In 1966, after briefly attending George Washington University, he re-entered the military and was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps as a second lieutenant. Carpenter was assigned as an officer with the 4th Civil Affairs Group and deployed during peacekeeping operations to Norway, Panama, and Puerto Rico, and Vietnam. Continuing to serve in data processing and other staff and clerical positions throughout his career, Carpenter rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring in 1986. In 1965, Carpenter was founding member of the Montford Point Marines Association, which was established to reunite veterans and active-duty Marines Corps personnel that trained at Montford Point Camp between 1942 and 1949. He is also a founding member of the Montford Point Marines Museum, which is housed at Montford Point Camp (now Camp Johnson).

In 2012, President Barack Obama bestowed upon Carpenter the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal for service as a Montford Point Marine. He was honored during a special ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C with state officials, military personnel, and other African Americans to serve in the United States Marine Corps at Montford Point between 1942 and 1949. Carpenter has also been recognized by the Montford Point Marines Association for his efforts to preserve and share the legacy of the Montford Point Marines as pioneers in the United States Marine Corps.

U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Joseph H. Carpenter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 15, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.041

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/13/2013

Last Name

Carpenter

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Search Occupation Category
First Name

Joseph

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

CAR26

Favorite Season

Summer

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Birth Date

6/19/1924

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Stafford

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ribs

Short Description

Colonel Lt. Col. Joseph Carpenter (1924 - ) , founding member of Montford Point Marines Association and the Montford Point Marines Museum, received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal in 2012.

Employment

United States Marine Corps

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:6206,146:7214,169:9230,239:21220,482:21620,490:34476,803:46118,920:47524,962:53814,1096:57958,1177:74542,1400:80406,1523:88728,1723:103146,2076:121346,2511:132710,2731:139080,2927:150525,3080:151375,3102:164786,3348:166762,3411:169194,3468:191070,3927:205290,4174:217100,4413:224100,4553$0,0:1254,92:19193,398:28806,504:30990,545:41956,867:72460,1307:75982,1399:115076,2085:119000,2157:130031,2382:143720,2694:148266,2773:148514,2778:163086,3008:165822,3086:171222,3168:191008,3575:206010,3832:220490,4262:241644,4580:244892,4722:246740,4760:270412,5188:275240,5302:276260,5321:278368,5368:288419,5544:289089,5565:298260,5738
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joseph Carpenter's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joseph Carpenter lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joseph Carpenter describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joseph Carpenter describes his mother's growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joseph Carpenter talks about his maternal grandmother and the Catholic church his maternal grandparents attended in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joseph Carpenter describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joseph Carpenter describes how his parents met and talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joseph Carpenter describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joseph Carpenter describes the neighborhood he lived in and schools he attended

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Joseph Carpenter talks about his oldest sister who was a principal in the Washington, D.C. public schools

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Joseph Carpenter remembers his elementary school experience

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joseph Carpenter talks about his family and their skin colors and learning to type

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joseph Carpenter talks about his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joseph Carpenter describes his experience in junior high school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joseph Carpenter discusses his experience in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joseph Carpenter talks about his joining the U.S. Marine Corps pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joseph Carpenter talks about his joining the U.S. Marine Corps pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joseph Carpenter discusses his travels through the "Jim Crow" South to Montford Point, North Carolina pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Joseph Carpenter discusses his travels through the "Jim Crow" South to Montford Point, North Carolina pt.2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joseph Carpenter describes his arrival to Montford Point in North Carolina for U.S. Marine Corps boot camp training

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joseph Carpenter describes his U.S. Marine Corps boot camp training pt.1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joseph Carpenter describes his U.S. Marine Corps boot camp training pt.2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joseph Carpenter talks about his graduation from boot camp and his assignment to the battalion company office

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joseph Carpenter describes his U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joseph Carpenter talks about the limited interactions between white and black Marines

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joseph Carpenter explains the U.S. Marine Corps' Ribbon River Creek incident

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joseph Carpenter talks about the Tuskegee Airmen and working as an office clerk with the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joseph Carpenter talks about muster rolls in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joseph Carpenter talks about remaining at Montford Point, while his platoon fought overseas in World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joseph Carpenter talks about being transferred to U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joseph Carpenter describes his work as a data processor and project officer for the U.S. Marine Corps pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joseph Carpenter describes his work as a data processor and project officer for the U.S. Marine Corps pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Joseph Carpenter talks about being denied accommodations by a Texas hotel

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joseph Carpenter discusses his re-entry into the U.S. Marine Corps as an officer

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joseph Carpenter recalls important historical events from the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joseph Carpenter talks about his civil affairs work in Panama

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joseph Carpenter describes his experiences with the local people in Panama

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joseph Carpenter recalls the highlights of his service in the U.S. Marine Corps pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Joseph Carpenter recalls the highlights of his service in the U.S. Marine Corps pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Joseph Carpenter discusses his retirement

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Joseph Carpenter reflects on the changes in the U.S. Marine Corps during his service

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Joseph Carpenter recalls how racial prejudice affected his military leave

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Joseph Carpenter discusses his post retirement plans and activities

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Joseph Carpenter talks about the Montford Point Marines receiving the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal in 2012

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Joseph Carpenter reflects upon his legacy and the legacy of the Montford Point Marines

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Joseph Carpenter expresses regret for not pursuing a college degree

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Joseph Carpenter describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community and talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Joseph Carpenter talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Joseph Carpenter describes his photos pt.1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Joseph Carpenter describes his photos pt.2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

7$9

DATitle
Joseph Carpenter discusses his travels through the "Jim Crow" South to Montford Point, North Carolina pt.1
Joseph Carpenter recalls how racial prejudice affected his military leave
Transcript
So you hadn't, you didn't have a sense of how black soldiers were treated in the Army?$$Well, I knew how they'd been treated, but, you know, from radio, you hear on the radio or when you went to the movies, they had News Reels. You'd see that and what you read in the paper, but, you know, you don't feel it. You don't, you know of it, but you don't really appreciate, I should--I guess I should put it that way. You don't appreciate what happened. So anyway, we get going, and after a couple of hours, we decide we wanted to eat. So we caught the conductor--it was a local train. So it stopped at every station going South. So the conductor comes through after every stop. So when he came through this time, we said, where's the dining car? And he says, well, you boys can't--I don't think he said, you boys. You guys or--probably, you boys, I guess, he said, "You boys--he made have said it a black way. He said "You boys can't go there because--he said, you boys can't go there." And so we immediately we said, why? He says, well, you're in the South, and there's a Jim Crowe law that doesn't allow blacks or colored to eat with the whites. So we didn't argue with him. So we said, okay, 'cause we could get off at Rocky Mountain. So we asked him how close Rocky Mountain was, and he said, maybe an hour or two from where we were. So we said, okay, we got--we talked together and said, okay, we'll just eat when we get in Rocky Mountain. And, of course, none of us had ever been to Rocky Mountain. So because of the way we were situated in the coaches, when the train pulled into the station for Rocky Mountain, it goes way--the engine goes way down the track. And I said, we're going down the track with it. So when we got out, when we got out, then everybody behind us is getting out at the same time, so it's all whites from the next car right behind us all the way back to the last car. So immediately we, and we waited on the tracks, and we're walking back towards the station 'cause we're right--now, this puts us in the back of the white group that's going in. And so we were talking, you know, we're still not paying any attention. None of us really had lived in the South or were really familiar with the South. So we were just walking with the group, going to the station 'cause we needed to find out where to get the bus 'cause nobody knew anything about Rocky Mountain. And, of course, you wanna get something to eat. So they all go in the station--in the, most of 'em started going into the station, and we were following right along, talking, not paying attention to signs or anything else. So this cop steps up in front of us, and he was a big one too. And he had a big pistol, about that thing was almost as tall as, almost as long as I was tall (laughter). That's the way it looked. But anyway, he says, where in the hell you--and he used the "N" word, think you're going? I said, well, we're going in here 'cause we wanna get something to eat, and we got meal tickets, we got a meal ticket we're bringing. I said, we got meal tickets, got our meal tickets, and we got to find out where to catch our bus, this type of thing. He said, well, can't you guys read? And he used the "N" word again. And, you know, well, we weren't gonna argue with him 'cause he was a police (laughter). And so he said, can't you guys read? So I looked up there, and I saw it said, "white". And I hadn't looked up there before, and then he says, well, you have to go around the corner. And I went around the corner, and I saw a sign up there, says, "Colored". And so we went in there. Like I say, we're in Rocky Mountain, and I don't know the first place about Rocky Mountain, neither did any of us. So we were completely lost without some information from somebody. So anyway, we went in the side door there, and it was a long corridor, fairly long, and at the end of it was a sliding glass window. So we go up to the window and look in, and we could see the white waitress in there, white people sitting around the counter, just talking and they were serving them. So we stood there a few minutes, thinking that somebody's gonna recognize and come over and see what we wanted. They completely ignored us. So then I said, well, you know, we had a problem 'cause I had to--I don't know where to go after here. So I knocked on glass. And we decided, we were talking, since we saw them ignoring us, said, well, we're not gonna eat here, said, we don't wanna eat here if that's the way they're gonna treat us.$And that's why the police and all of 'em--that reminds me of another thing. But that's why police and all of 'em would give us a hard time because they knew we had no one, we had no one looking out for us. We were on, kind of on our own. And the (unclear) way up, after I got in the head--when I went in the recruit company, as, right out of boot camp, went into recruit company, and I told you that the First Sergeant asked me to wait a while before I took my leave, well, about a month later when I took my leave, I left the office at 4:30 that evening, and went into Jacksonville [North Carolina] to catch the bus to go to Rocky Mountain to catch the train there to go to [Washington] D.C. That's the only way I knew to travel 'cause that's the first time off the base. So anyway, I go into Jacksonville at around 4:30, right after work Friday, and about the time I got out of Jacksonville, it was midnight because of the white Marines from Camp LeJeune [North Carolina] were inside and there were a thousand of them. And the Jim Crow law says whites fill up first, and if it's any room afterwards, blacks could go. So it was from 4:30 and a bus would leave, left around 6:00, another left around 8:00, and another left around midnight, and I got the--the one I got was midnight when I got out of there. So, when I get to Rocky Mountain, now, it's about--well, about time the train comes through, it's about 2:00 o'clock in the morning. So I get on the train to go to D.C. I get to D.C., and it's about 8:00 o'clock Saturday morning or 9:00 o'clock, somewhere in there. It's morning. I walk through the gate from, coming out of the train, where the train area is, where the train's there. You go through the gate, and then you're in the station. And it's a wide area there. And who's standing right there at the gate, is an MP [military police]. And he looks at me, and he calls me over. And he says, Marine, you're out of uniform. I said, what are you talking about I'm out of uniform. He says that uniform you're in is filthy. I said, well, I just got off the train. And he says, I'm sorry, but you're--you can't go into town like that. I said, well, okay. Well, I got a, a change of uniform in my bag. I got a bag right. I can go in the men's room and change up. He said, nah, I'm not gonna let you do that. You can't do that. So he held me over at their, at the station until the next train going South, put me on the next train going South to go back to camp. And I did 'cause I had no choice really. Then he's the police to me. He's the police. And if he said, do it, you do it. He says, and plus, I'm gonna send a letter back to your command reporting this. So I said, well, I--so to me, I said, well, I'd better go back and make sure that I square everything away. So anyway, he puts me on the train and I come back. So I get back, maybe late Saturday evening or early Sunday morning. I don't remember which. Anyway, it was the next, that Monday when we go to work, I go in the office and the first thing Tops, the First Sergeant, and we called Top, First Sergeant, First Sergeant Top, so the First Sergeant said, well, what are you doing here? You're supposed to be on leave. So I explained to him what happened. So he said, okay, he said, what he would do, he was gonna notify the battalion, our battalion CO [commanding officer] who in turn could notify Colonel Woods who was the camp CO to notify the CO of the MP's down here, and explain to 'em what's happening so that, you know, we can't, we've got--we have to ride that train, and nothing we could do because the coach we're in is the one that's filthy 'cause that's the one right behind the coal car basically, you know, and then when the blacks caught it in the South, you know, they bring chicken and everything else. That's where everybody has to ride if you ride a train. So they bring live chickens and everything on the train down in the South at that time, they would. And so it was filthy, and the soot from the dust--you could feel grit. It just, the seat felt gritty, but you couldn't, that's the only you could do is sit on it, if you sat down. And I didn't know any better 'cause I mean I sat there. I didn't realize I was gonna get that dirty, but my suit, my uniform really was dirty 'cause I was perspiring. So you perspire, and you're rubbing against it, and so anyway so my First Sergeant says, I'll give you another set of leaves. And this time when you, just catch the bus and go to D.C. to avoid that until we can get it squared away. So I said, okay, I'll catch the bus. So he did give me a break. He started off with two weeks leave. So he gave me two weeks, plus a--what they call a 72-hour pass, which is another three days he had, he tacked onto it for me. So anyway, I catch the bus, and now in the Jim Crow laws there, when the bus stops at one of those restaurants, you can't go in and eat. You gotta go around the back, see, and then knock on the door and then the cooks or what not would come to the door, and serve you whatever you want. But then if you wanted to go to the restroom, they had an outhouse for you, for blacks. And that thing was never clean. And so you could imagine what it was like to step in something that's been there for years and used for years. So I said to myself, boy, this is not, this is just not it. So anyway, I get back on the bus, and decide I wouldn't get off until I got to D.C. And I did, I went all the way to D.C. Of course, I had to come back that way, but coming back, I made sure I didn't have to stop for nothing (laughter). I just had to ride the bus. I was gonna stay on the bus the whole trip, which I did 'cause it was terrible.

Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis

Colonel and federal government appointee Roosevelt Joseph Lewis, Jr. was born on August 25, 1943, in Greenville, Alabama to Clara Nell Mitchell Lewis and Roosevelt Joseph Lewis, Sr. Lewis and his family moved to Toulminville, Alabama when he was four years old; and he graduated as valedictorian from Heart of Mary High School in 1960. In 1964, Lewis received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Tuskegee University (formerly the Tuskegee Institute) in Tuskegee, Alabama. He earned his M.A. degree in transportation and business management from the University of Alabama in Tuscalossa, Alabama.

While attending Tuskegee University, Lewis enrolled in the United States Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and met aviation pioneer Alfred “Chief” Anderson, who was the chief flight instructor and mentor to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. By 1968, Lewis gained recognition for his superior performance in the ROTC and was elected "Best Major in Command" by his unit in 1968, 1969, 1982 and 1988.

Lewis served the United States government's Department of Defense in five Pentagon positions, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense. As the chief of Vehicle Programs, he purchased the $3.4 billion vehicle fleet for the U.S. Air Force and managed a $34.8 billion budget as Executive Officer of the Logistics Engineering branch, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.

Lewis was a presidential scholar at the University of Alabama and served as a congressional intern with the Public Works & Transportation Committee for the U.S. House of Representatives. Lewis has also taught transportation courses for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Maryland. In addition, he was previously former secretary of the Alabama Aeronautics Commission.

Since his retirement in 1991, Lewis has focused his efforts on aviation training for new pilots and has guided over 300 of them in obtaining their licenses. Lewis also serves as chairman and CEO of Air Tuskegee Ltd. and Global One Jets. He also owns historic Moton Field, where most of the Tuskegee Airmen, including his mentor, “Chief” Anderson, learned how to fly.
Roosevelt Joseph Lewis Jr., was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 6, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.246

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/6/2007

Last Name

Lewis

Schools

Heart of Mary High School

Toulminville Elementary School

St. James Major Catholic School

Tuskegee University

University of Alabama

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Roosevelt

Birth City, State, Country

Greenville

HM ID

LEW11

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Favorite Quote

There Are These Three: Faith, Hope And Love, And The Greatest Of These Is Love.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alabama

Birth Date

8/25/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Coden

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Blue Bell Ice Cream

Short Description

Colonel and federal government appointee Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis (1943 - ) served the United States in five Pentagon positions, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He is chairman and CEO of Air Tuskegee Ltd. and Global One Jets. He is also the owner of Moton Field, where most of the Tuskegee Airmen were trained as pilots.

Employment

United States Air Force

Tuskegee University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his maternal family history, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his maternal family history, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his great-grandmother Lula Lewis

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his two maternal grandfathers

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis shares memories of his maternal grandparents and annual family reunions in Greenville, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis recalls her mother's generosity in his childhood neighborhood in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his mother's childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his maternal ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his father's childhood in Greenville, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his father, Roosevelt Lewis, Sr., pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his father, Roosevelt Lewis, Sr., pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his father's career at the International Paper Company

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his father's death and his respect for his parents

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his father's training as a medic in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes how his paternal great-grandmother, Lula Lewis, lost her land

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis recalls his experience of growing up on a farm

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about how his parents met and their courtship

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his parents' move to Mobile, Alabama where his father worked at the International Paper Company

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his family's move back to Mobile, Alabama after his father returned from military service

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his siblings, pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his siblings, pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his family's first home in Toulminville, at that time a suburb of Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis remembers watching his neighbor, Hank Aaron, play broom ball

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood neighborhood in Toulminville, a suburb of Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his childhood experience of segregation in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes the stores and schools in Toulminville, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis remembers learning to play tennis

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his elementary school years at Toulminville Elementary School, originally a Rosenwald one-room schoolhouse

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his father's work and education

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his family's conversion to Catholicism and his Catholic schooling

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his experience at Heart of Mary High School in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis recalls winning scholarships that enabled him to go to college

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis remembers a tragic fire in his childhood home

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes the aftermath of a tragic fire in his childhood home

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his first days at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his first flight with C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his experience at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his early years in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis remembers being attacked by the Ku Klux Klan in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes another incident with the Ku Klux Klan, and why he did not participate in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis remembers getting shot at while working for TISEP, The Tuskegee Institute Summer Education Program

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about why he chose a behind-the-scenes role during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about being stationed at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his decision to go to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his wife and his daughter

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson, who introduced him to many Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his involvement with the East Coast Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. while interning in the U.S. House of Representatives

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about the influence of the Tuskegee Airmen on him and his "P's of Success"

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about the importance of the Tuskegee Airmen's story and his role in telling it

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his early career and his two-year tour at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina while working for the Pentagon

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about working at the Pentagon and his time with the U.S. Air Force in the Philippines

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis recalls his promotion to the rank of colonel

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes how the Tuskegee Airmen influenced him in his U.S. Air Force career

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his responsibilities in the Philippines as a U.S. Air Force Colonel, and in Operation Earnest Will

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his decision to return to Tuskegee University to save Moton Field and to teach air science

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his aviation students at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his goals at Tuskegee University and the establishment of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about the importance of a flight training program at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis recalls outstanding students that he has trained

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis reflects upon the influence of his parents and C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson on his life

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis shares his advice for youth

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$8

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his first flight with C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson
Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his responsibilities in the Philippines as a U.S. Air Force Colonel, and in Operation Earnest Will
Transcript
So you're on the field [Moton Field, Tuskegee, Alabama] and you see Chief Anderson?$$Yes, C. Alfred Anderson, "Chief" Anderson to those who were in the Tuskegee Aviation experiment, America's first black military pilots got their first seventy hours of flight training at Moton Field, a field owned by Tuskegee Institute [now Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama]. This man had just landed in his airplane and totally ignored the three young men who had shown up, and he gassed the airplane up and we were standing there and we got closer and closer and closer and finally we're standing next to the airplane and we're looking never saying anything, but just looking. Chief Anderson turned around says, "Hi, I'm Chief Anderson," put his hand out, said "Would you like to go for a flight?" The other two guys just kinda almost fell down getting back out of the way, Chief nudged my elbow, helped me in the left seat, told me to put the seat belt on, put your heels on the floor, toes on the rudder pedals, left hand on the wheel, right hand on throttle, crank the airplane up, when he got in the other side and off I went in this airplane all over the place, it was like an anaconda snake or something but Chief Anderson was an individual who was just an absolutely incredible instructor. I know now as a pilot that he put his shoes on the outside of the rudder pedals and I could only do so much with the airplane, but he would have you think that you were actually flying the airplane and more and more he would turn over the airplane to you as you gain hand and eye coordination and skills and what have you, but I went for this first magical flight for thirty, forty minutes over Tuskegee, came back in and landed and it had truly broadened my horizons. I was truly struck by the fact that I no longer saw Tuskegee as this big place that I had to walk from one end down here all the way up to the Tompkins Hall and over to the Chapel and what have you. I found out that Tuskegee was a finite place, I saw the borders. I asked questions, I was totally fascinated with the idea of flying an airplane. He taught me how to turn the airplane, how to make the airplane climb gradually, how to make the airplane descend gradually, how to maneuver the airplane and told me about controls and speeds and what have you. You can only get so much in a short period, but in that flight I think the realization came over me that "I think I can do this," then "I know I can do this," and then "I have to do this," so from that point on flying became an absolute integral part of who I was.$So is that what happened with your next position?$$Yes, in the Pacific, I was sent out there--twofold reasons. Number one, I had all of this Pentagon experience; they needed a senior colonel on the ground in the Philippines to make sure that the [Corazon] Aquino Government was supported. I worked with the Embassy; they knew I knew logistics so the Pentagon needed somebody there very quickly to fix things in case that is what was needed. My "day-time job," not working with the Embassy, my day-time job was overseeing the DOD [Department of Defense] Air Lift Operation and the mobility program in the Pacific [theater]. So for half the world I was responsible for mobility, and I had the Eighth Mobile Aerial Port Squadron there and the 74th Strategic Airlift Squadron there, so I was a group commander, and I had all of the detachments out there in the Pacific responsible for air lift operations. I kept fresh fruits and vegetable parts all of that in front of the [U.S.] Navy task forces, I fed the [U.S.] Army any air lift things they needed to come in, the Navy, the [U.S.] Marines--I air lifted them for mobility, all of those kinds of things. And also in the Pacific, Operation Earnest Will, a one-baker-one [ph.] presidential directive, the first one I saw in my entire career, but I was responsible directly to the Pentagon for getting to Diego Garcia [Air Force Base] and running this operation. I don't know if you remember this but there was the mining of the Persian Gulf by Khomeyni in Iran. This was an international incident, the world was on pins and needles because nobody knew what anybody else was gonna do. Khomeini mined the Persian Gulf; the oil tankers could not come through there. President [Ronald] Reagan said, "this will not stand." President Reagan wanted France to let us have overflight rights. They wouldn't let us do it, so we had to airlift minesweeping helicopters that dragged boards we call them, in the water to get rid of the mines. We had to airlift them three quarters of the way around the world from the States, East Coast all the way around the world on a C-5, multiple C-5s we did that. I received them, they came through in the (unclear) received them, was there, we got the job done, but most of the world doesn't know that President Reagan had five cocked B-52s orbiting over the area during that operation, but the USS Guadalcanal, a carrier, a small carrier was on the way to the Persian Gulf, turned around and came back. This was supposed to be super-secret, nobody knew anything. And on CNN, right after I pulled the helicopters off of the C-5s and the Navy guys got the, got them airworthy and they flew them and put them on the Guadalcanal, it was on CNN that the USS Guadalcanal has just come into the lagoon at, oh my--Diego Garcia, so I was involved in this absolutely incredible thing, it worked out thank goodness, but I came back from the Philippines to a job after a bit of an epiphany.

The Honorable Floyd Griffin

Floyd Griffin, retired United States Army Colonel, former Georgia State Senator and current Mayor of Milledgeville, Georgia was born May 24, 1944, in Milledgeville. Griffin holds an A. S. degree in funeral service from Grupton Jones College, a B. S. in building construction from Tuskegee Institute and a Masters degree in contract procurement and management from the Florida Institute of Technology. He is also a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College and the National War College.

Griffin's twenty-three-year career in the military began in 1967 when Griffin served as a helicopter pilot and flight instructor in Vietnam. He served a tour of duty in Germany also where he was a logistics officer, battalion chief, and director of engineering and housing. From 1984 to 1986, Griffin commanded an engineering battalion at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and from 1986 to 1990, he was assigned to the Pentagon. Retiring from the military as a colonel in 1990, Griffin taught military science at Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem State University, where he also was the offensive backfield coach for a football team that enjoyed two undefeated seasons and won back-to-back championships.

In 1994, running as a Democrat, Griffin was elected State Senator from the 25th Senatorial District of Georgia and was reelected in 1996. He sacrificed his Senate seat in 1998 to run for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, but lost. Griffin tried again for his old Senate seat in 2000, and was narrowly defeated by the incumbent in the primary election. Not discouraged, Griffin ran for Mayor of Milledgeville, his hometown and won in 2001. An accomplished businessman, Griffin is vice president of Slater Funeral Home in Milledgeville, a Griffin family owned business.

Accession Number

A2002.030

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/20/2002

Last Name

Griffin

Organizations
Schools

Mount Hill Baptist Church School

Carver Elementary School

Boddie High School

Tuskegee University

Florida Institute of Technology

Army Command and General Staff College

National War College

Oak Hill Middle School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Weekends

First Name

Floyd

Birth City, State, Country

Miledgeville

HM ID

GRI01

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Teens, adults.

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $500 - $1,000

Favorite Season

Fall

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Teens, adults.

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Exotic Places, Europe

Favorite Quote

Winners make it happen.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

5/24/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Millledgeville

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak, Turkey

Short Description

Colonel, mayor, and state senator The Honorable Floyd Griffin (1944 - ) was the first African American mayor of Milledgeville, Georgia as well as a former Georgia State Senator. Griffin also served twenty-three years in the military as a helicopter pilot and flight instructor in Vietnam, commander at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and at the Pentagon. He also taught military science at Wake Forest University.

Employment

United States Army

Slater Funeral Home

Georgia State Senate

City of Milledgeville, Georgia

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue, Gold, Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Floyd Griffin interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Floyd Griffin's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Floyd Griffin describes his parents and their backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Floyd Griffin discusses his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Floyd Griffin shares memories of influential moments in his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Floyd Griffin describes his childhood community of Milledgeville, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Floyd Griffin recalls living conditions, black self-help and celebrations in his close-knit childhood community of Milledgeville

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Floyd Griffin describes himself as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Floyd Griffin remembers his elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Floyd Griffin recalls his elementary school years

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Floyd Griffin recollects high school teachers who influenced him

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Floyd Griffin lists his high school extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Floyd Griffin explains his decision to attend Tuskegee

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Floyd Griffin recounts his college experiences at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Floyd Griffin remembers Tuskegee students' involvement with the civil rights movement in the mid 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Floyd Griffin compares Georgia and Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Floyd Griffin reflects on his experiences at Tuskegee

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Floyd Griffin describes his ambiguous feelings about his military career plans during the civil rights movements

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Floyd Griffin briefly discusses Julian Bond

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Floyd Griffin recalls his military career aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Floyd Griffin talks about his career choices in the military

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Floyd Griffin recounts his service in Vietnam

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Floyd Griffin remembers his Army career after returning from Vietnam

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Floyd Griffin reminisces about his college football coaching career

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Floyd Griffin reflects on his military career and decision to retire

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Floyd Griffin reflects on how his military career affected him and the transition to civilian life

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Floyd Griffin lists his family members

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Floyd Griffin recalls his campaign for the Georgia state senate

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Floyd Griffin reflects on his two terms as a Georgia state senator

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Floyd Griffin recounts his campaign for mayor of Milledgeville

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Floyd Griffin talks about his priorities as mayor of Milledgeville, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Floyd Griffin describes the history of Milledgeville, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Floyd Griffin discusses his unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor of Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Floyd Griffin talks about his funeral home business

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Floyd Griffin explains his famous cowboy boots and cigar

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Floyd Griffin shares his hopes for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Floyd Griffin considers his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Floyd Griffin talks about his career choices in the military
Floyd Griffin recounts his campaign for mayor of Milledgeville
Transcript
Why didn't you choose the Air Force, though?$$Well, early on, you know, when I went off to college and as I was in the program, I didn't really think about it that much because, see, at Tuskegee [Institute, later Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama] at the time the Tuskegee Army program did not have a flight program. And I just didn't have any real desire to go in the Air Force at that, you know, at that point in time. I wanted to be an engineer, not a, an aviator. And I wanted to be out where the rubber meets the roads. You know, the Air Force was kind of a laid back, you know, situation and et cetera. And I, I felt I--for some reason I felt that I had a better opportunity to move up the career ladder in the, in the Army versus the Air Force. And my senior year, the Army got an ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps], got an Army flight program. And it was really too late for me to, to go through that, that program. So after I got in the Army after one year or so I decided I would see what happened and--. So and I, and I could do both. At that time you could be what we called, you had to be in a branch other than that, the flight program. So I was in the Corps of Engineers and I went off to flight school. So I was dual, and I ended up doing a little bit of both over a, a period of time before the Army--after Vietnam the Army went to a aviation branch. And I was a major then. I had been in the Army about twelve or thirteen years. And I had a choice of staying in the Corps of Engineers or going into the, into the aviation branch. And I decided to stay into the Corps because I didn't want to basically start over again in the aviation branch at the rank I was. I could have, but I just decided that was not in my best interest.$$So did you--you got shipped off to Vietnam after going to flight school?$$After going to flight school I spent a year in the, in the States, went back up in the Washington, DC, area for a year. And after that year I went back to a, a couple of courses, aviation course. I went through the instructor pilots' program. Then I went to Vietnam.$Now, your decision to run for mayor [of his hometown, Milledgeville, Georgia, in 2001]. How did that come about?$$Well, you know, after, after leaving the Senate, I ran for lieutenant governor, you know, and I was unsuccessful there. And, really, I ran for the Senate seat again that I held, and I (laughter), I lost that race, and that was a big surprise. But that's probably the, the best thing to happen. And I--there were a group of black women here in Milledgeville--encouraged me and beat me up and did everything else to convince me I needed to run for mayor. Because I, you know, although when I left the military my goal was to run for mayor, but after being back for a while and all I decided that it's really not what I wanted to do. But they encouraged me and they talked to me and they beat me up over the head and everything else, not literally, but talked me into, to doing it. And not only talked me into doing it, and after I decided to do it, they got out and, and was very, very supportive. Now there were black men also involved and there were whites involved. But I'm talking about the people who really, really came down and said now you gotta do this.$$Now, it was a, it was a hotly contested race, wasn't it?$$Yes, it was a hotly contested race, and it never should have been that way. Okay. Not especially after we got into the runoff. It was the incumbent and a, another white gentlemen who did not have any political experience at all, a local businessperson. And he and I ended up in the runoff. The incumbent didn't end up in the runoff. I needed ninety-, I think it was ninety-seven votes to win without a runoff. In the runoff I won by twenty-one votes. So you can see--you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see exactly what happened there. It turned out to be a total race-supported election with me getting more white votes than he got black votes. But it just became a racial divide thing, and it never should have been that way. And that's, if I had one, one of my greatest disappointments in being in politics, that's probably more disappoint-, disappointing than the, the losses I've had because it never should have been that way especially in the runoff because this young man, although he's a nice young guy and all that, but had no experience to come to the table against a person with my background and experience, which has been a successful political experience. And everybody here knows that. And the race come down to, to twenty-one, to twenty-one votes. It was quite disappointing.