Today in History October 27 He was the first African-American general officer in the United States Air Force
October 27 is the 300th day of the year. There are 65 days remaining until the end of the year.
|General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.|
Today's Highlight in History 1954 – Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. becomes the first African-American general in the United States Air Force.
Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. (December 18, 1912 – July 4, 2002) was an American United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen.
He was the first African-American general officer in the United States Air Force. On December 9, 1998, he was advanced to four-star general by President Bill Clinton.
During World War II, Davis was commander of the 99th and the 332nd Fighter Group, which escorted bombers on air combat missions over Europe. Davis himself flew sixty missions in P-39, Curtiss P-40, P-47 and P-51 Mustang fighters. Davis followed in his father's footsteps in breaking racial barriers, as Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. was the first African-American general in the United States Army.
Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr was born in Washington, D.C. on December 18, 1912, the second of three children born to Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. and Elnora Dickerson Davis. His father was a U.S. Army officer, and at the time was stationed in Wyoming serving as a lieutenant with an all-white cavalry unit. Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. served 41 years before he was promoted to brigadier general in October 1940. Elnora Davis died from complications after giving birth to their third child (Elnora) in 1916.
|Colonel Davis in front of a P-47, ~1944|
After attending the University of Chicago, he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New Yorkin 1932. He graduated in 1936, 35th in a class of 278. He was the academy's fourth black graduate (and the first graduate since Charles Young in 1889). When he was commissioned as a second lieutenant, the Army had a grand total of two black line officers — Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. and Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. After graduation he married Agatha Scott.
At the start of his senior year at West Point, Davis had applied for the Army Air Corps but was rejected because it did not accept blacks. He was instead assigned to the all-black 24th Infantry Regiment (one of the original Buffalo Soldier regiments) at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was not allowed inside the base officers' club.
|Capt Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr., of Washington, D.C.,|
climbing into an Advanced Trainer.
Tuskegee, Alabama. January 1942
He later attended the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, but then was assigned to teach military tactics at Tuskegee Institute, a historically black college in Tuskegee, Alabama. This was something his father had done years before. It was the Army's way to avoid having a black officer in command of white soldiers.
Early in 1941, the Roosevelt administration, in response to public pressure for greater black participation in the military as war approached, ordered the War Department to create a black flying unit. Captain Davis was assigned to the first training class at Tuskegee Army Air Field (hence the name Tuskegee Airmen), and in March 1942 earned his wings as one of five black officers to complete the course. He was the first black officer to solo an Army Air Corps aircraft. In July that year, having been promoted to lieutenant colonel, he was named commander of the first all-black air unit, the 99th Pursuit Squadron.
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1948 – Léopold Sédar Senghor founds the Senegalese Democratic Bloc.
1954 – Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. becomes the first African-American general in the United States Air Force.
1961 – Mauritania and Mongolia join the United Nations.
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