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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
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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.