Col. Benjamin O. Davis Jr.
The respected commander of the 99th
Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group, Lt. Col. Davis was
leadership from the day he was born. Born to Gen. Benjamin O. Davis
first black general of the armed forces, Davis
experienced firsthand the harsh realities of segregation and racism as
shunned by his fellow white officers at West Point.
persevered and became
first black to graduate West Point
in forty-seven years. Before becoming a member of the 99th,
previously served at Fort Benning, Georgia
and taught military science and tactics at Tuskegee Institute. He would
the 99th from 1942-1943 before he was assigned to command
He was known for never assigning missions to his pilots that he would
himself. During his service with the Airmen, he would receive several
including the Legion of Merit for leadership. After the war, Davis
would continue to serve in the Air Force until 1970 and would
its first black general in 1954.
Black Knights by Homan and
George Spencer Roberts
After Col. Davis was transferred to command the 332nd,
Lt. Col Roberts, a member of the first class to receive their wings at Tuskegee,
became commander of the 99th. Born in West
he would earn his pilot’s license
college’s civilian aviation program. During service with the 99th,
he would only record one kill but his leadership was valued just as
Col. Davis. He was eventually promoted to commander of the 332nd
Fighter Group and would lead them back from Europe
the war ended
by Homan and Reilly
Capt. Charles B. Hall
As the first member of the Airmen to record a
Hall received instant acclaim and was personally congratulated by
ranking officers in the armed forces. He would later score two more
would receive the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts. His
even more remarkable when one considers that he was originally studying
to be a
teacher at Illinois State
Teachers College a few years
Black Knights by Homan and
Capt. Edward L. Toppins
Born in Mississippi
and raised in San Francisco,
Toppins would be regarded as one of the best pilots of the 332nd
well as one of the most decorated. As he began his training at Tuskegee
he crashed his plane and was out of commission for several months.
injury, he persevered and would eventually be one of the first
pilots to join the 99th in combat. He gained a reputation
confidence in battle and his strong desire to engage the enemy every
could get. This would lead to four kills and several awards including
Distinguished Flying Cross and the Victory Medal.
The Tuskegee Airmen
Maj. Lee Rayford
Maj. Rayford earned his reputation as one of the
black pilots of the 332nd. He began his combat experience
99th before coming back to the United
States to be a part of the 332nd.
He would become the Operation Officer for the 301st and when
group went into combat, he became commander of the 301st.
flying over ninety missions, he was rewarded with several awards
Distinguished Flying Cross, the American Defense Medal, the Victory
the Purple Heart.
Maj. William Campbell
Maj. Campbell was praised as the best flight
leader in the
332nd because of his aggressiveness and bravery. One of the
local members of the Tuskegee Airmen, Maj. Campbell was a student at Tuskegee
who majored in business administration before joining the 99th.
had a short tour of duty and was finished by the end of 1943, but
returned to the 99th and became its commander, displaying
leadership and bravery that would lead to his promotion of Major. He
100 missions with the Airmen and received the Distinguished Flying
Double V by
Scott and Womack