During World War II, the U.S. military was racially segregated. Reflecting American society and law at the time, most black soldiers and sailors were restricted to labor battalions and other support positions.
An experiment in the U.S. Army Air Forces, however, showed that given equal opportunity and training, African-Americans could fly in, command and support combat units as well as anyone. The USAAF’s black fliers, the so-called “Tuskegee Airmen,” served with distinction in combat and directly contributed to the eventual integration of the U.S. armed services, with the U.S. Air Force leading the way.
General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., who was the son of General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. the first black general in the United States Army, was the World War II Commander of this 332nd Fighter Group.
General Davis and his pilots escorted United States Air Force bombers on 200 air combat missions over Europe into the teeth of some of the Nazi’s most tenacious air defenses. It was one of the 332nd’s proudest achievements that not one of the bombers it protected was lost to an enemy fighter.
General Davis flew 60 missions personally and was awarded the silver star.
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