Away At 97
July 15, 2015 - Lt. Col. Eldridge Williams one
of the last members of the Tuskegee Airmen
passed away on July 2nd at the age of 97.
Lt. Col. Eldridge F. Williams was born November
2, 1917. In 1941, he was drafted and after a
year of service. He was selected to attend
Training School at Tuskegee University.
Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S.
Army Air Corps and assigned to Tuskegee Army
Airfield, he rose to the rank of captain. But
with no desire for a military career, he left
the service and became head basketball coach at North Carolina A&T
College in Greensboro.
In 1948, Williams was recalled to military
service during the Berlin Airlift. In December
of 1949, a year after President Harry. Truman
signed Executive Order 9981, which integrated
armed forces, Williams departed for his first
integrated assignment on the island of Okinawa.
Williams served in various military capacities,
and after 23 years, he retired with the rank of
lieutenant colonel. In January 1964, Williams
joined the Miami Dade County Public Schools. He
was named coordinator of federal programs, and
later chosen as the director of administrative
staffing and policy development.
In 1971 he assumed the job of director of school
desegregation. The position eventually became
director, Office of Equal Opportunity, which
encompassed the implementation of Titles VII, IX
and other federal regulations on discrimination.
Williams became executive director of personnel
in 1978 and retired in 1985.
Before a U.S. aircraft broke the sound barrier,
the Tuskegee Airmen overcame a daunting social
hurdle, breaking the Army Air Corps' color
barrier. On March 29, 2007, In the Capitol
Rotunda, President Bush and Congress awarded the
Congressional Gold Medal to the Tuskegee Airmen
(collectively, not individually), more than 60
years after the 332nd Fighter Group's World War
II achievements that were made bittersweet by
the racial discrimination they endured after