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The Tuskegee Airmen
Part 3
 
While serving as Commander of the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing, Far East Air Forces, Korea, then Colonel Davis (center) discusses a flight maneuver with two of his officers.
 

Benjamin O. Davis Jr. was born in Washington, DC on December 18, 1912. His fascination with airplanes and flight have been with him since his early teens. He experienced his first airplane ride at the age of 14 in a barnstormer open cockpit airplane when his father, Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. took him to Bolling Field. Taking to the air, the younger Davis recalled a "sudden surge of determination to" become an aviator. 

Although it was virtually impossible for a Black man to be accepted for training as a pilot, when Davis learned that the Army Air Corps often trained West Point graduates as pilots, he sought entrance to this prestigious military school. On July l, 1932, through the help of Illinois Congressman Alonzo De Priest, the only Black Congressman, Davis arrived at West Point. He was 19.

 

Benjamin O. Davis Jr. was born in Washington, DC on December 18, 1912. His fascination with airplanes and flight have been with him since his early teens. He experienced his first airplane ride at the age of 14 in a barnstormer open cockpit airplane when his father, Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. took him to Bolling Field. Taking to the air, the younger Davis recalled a "sudden surge of determination to" become an aviator. 

Although it was virtually impossible for a Black man to be accepted for training as a pilot, when Davis learned that the Army Air Corps often trained West Point graduates as pilots, he sought entrance to this prestigious military school. On July l, 1932, through the help of Illinois Congressman Alonzo De Priest, the only Black Congressman, Davis arrived at West Point. He was 19.
 
 

He would graduate four years later, having endured the silent treatment from his classmates. No one would speak to him nor sit next to him voluntarily at meal time. Davis remembered that "it was like four years of' solitary confinement."  Benjamin Davis entered pilot training in 1941 with the Army Air Corps. After completing training, he assumed command of the 99th Pursuit Squadron. known as the Tuskegee Airmen. 

During World War II, Davis led the 99th and 332nd Fighter Squadron into air combat over North Africa and Italy. Following the war and through 1969, Davis led a distinguished military career in such places as Korea, Japan, Taipei, the Philippines and Germany, as well as in the Unites States, where he commanded both Black and White units.

He retired from the Air Force as a three-star general in 1970. Gen. Davis was instrumental in several areas during and after his military career. In 1950, he sought and received approval to create the official Air Force acrobatic team, the thunderbirds. He was the first director of Civilian Aviation Security (known then as the "Sky Marshals") at the Department of Transportation and in 1973, led a drive to have the national speed limit reduced to 55 mph to save gas and lives.

 
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