Black History Month: Day 11

Let’s keep the black history facts going. Today I would like to turn your attention to Benjamin O. Davis Jr. He was the first black Air Force General. He led the Tuskegee Airman flight squadron.

Benjamin Davis Jr. was born on December 18, 1912, in Washington D.C. When he was 13 years old, he attended an exhibition at Bolling Field. He took a ride on a plane, and enjoyed it so much that he decided that he wanted to be a pilot.

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He graduated from Central High school, in Cleveland, Ohio in 1929. He then attended Case Western Reserve for a year, and later attended the University of Chicago.

Davis still hoped to become a military pilot. He reached out to Oscar De Priest. De Priest sponsored Davis for a position in the United States Military Academy, in New York.

Davis faced hardships in the academy. No one would speak to him, eat with him, or be his roommate. Despite what he went through, Davis graduated in 1936. Later on, he married the young lady he dated during his time at the academy, Agatha Scot.

He applied for the army air corps, and although he had a high standing in his graduating class, he was denied because of his color, and there wasn’t a black squadron.

He traveled to Tuskegee Alabama, to teach military tactics, at the Tuskegee institute. He was promoted to the First Lieutenant rank on June 19, 1939, and eventually up to Captain. In 1942, he completed his training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field, and became the first black officer to make a solo flight in an army air corps plane.

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In 1942, he became the commander of the Tuskegee Airmen. After more than 30 years of military service, President Clinton honored him in 1970 with a four-star insignia, and in 1991, Davis wrote about his challenges and achievements in his book(Benjamin O. Davis Jr.: American).

Benjamin O. Davis Jr. died on July 4th 2002.

 

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