Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. (Vintage)
Benjamin Davis reveals in the title of his autobiography, published by the Smithsonian Press, that he prefers to be categorized as an American with no descriptive adjectives. He was born and raised in the North. His Father was the only Black officer in the US Army. He had a relatively safe and supportive environment through high school. He sought and received an appointment to West Point. That is when he experienced, first hand, the ugliness of racial discrimination. He was "silenced" for the entire 4 year academy academic experience. He prevailed. He wanted to fly airplanes but initially was denied by the US Army Air Corps because blacks were not considered competent. Instead, he was branched Infantry and had to travel from West Point to Fort Benning, GA. Not a simple or easy journey for a black soldier with a light complected wife in the Jim Crow south. Upon arrival, he was silenced again. He prevailed. He was contacted by the Army Air Corps leadership to see if he was willing to participate in an experiment involving black soldiers to be trained and supervised by white officers flight training. If they completed the training they would be assigned to segregated units. OBTW, the training would be conducted at the Tuskegee Institute in racially hostile Alabama. Without hesitation, Ben Davis accepted the challenge. He would lead the Tuskegee Airmen in their air war effort of WWII. They flew the magnificent P51 fighter bomber with the distinctive red tail marking. German fighter pilots soon failed to engage. Benjamin Davis retired as *** general officer. Success of the Tuskegee Airmen is credited with the integration of the US Air Force after it became a separate service. You will read more about his service to our nation after his retirement. There is a brand new dorm at West Point that bears his name. What a tribute from a grateful nation to a real hero!