Today were are celebrating pilot, war hero, and West Point graduate Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. He is most famous for heading up the highly regarded Tuskegee Airmen flight squadron during WWII. His impressive list of accolades reflects the unique and remarkable aspects of his character and career, especially considering the almost ever present climate of prejudice he navigated throughout his life. From Great Black Heroes.
Davis participated in numerous missions, flying in P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs. He was awarded the Silver Star for a mission in Austria and won the Distinguished Flying Cross for a bomber-escort mission to Munich, Germany in June, 1944.
In 1945, Colonel Davis was placed in charge of 477th Bombardment Group, the group being comprised entirely of Blacks, stationed at Godman Field in Kentucky.
After the end of World War II, the new President Harry Truman dispatched an order to fully integrate the military branches. Colonel Davis was called upon to help draft the new “Air Force” plan for carrying out this order. For the next few years he was assigned to the Pentagon and to posts overseas. When the Korean War broke out, he once again participated in the fighting, manning a F-86 fighter jet and leading the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing.
In the summer of 1949, Davis was assigned to attend the Air War College. He was the first Black permitted to attend the college and it was significant because further promotion was dependent upon successful graduation. Despite dealing with the racial climate in place in Montgomery, Alabama, where the war college took place, he persevered and excelled and upon graduation received an assignment to serve at the United States Air Force Headwaters at the Pentagon.