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Iron Riders: Story of the Buffalo Soldier Bicycle Corps - a great read about a part of military history most have never heard of!

Hidden Heroism : Black Soldiers in America's Wars - new title. I haven't read this one yet. Could be interesting, but sounds like its more for academics than general reading.

Also of interest:

Bitter Fruit : African American Women in World War II
by Maureen Honey (Editor)
"...presents an image of black women as community activists that undercuts gender stereotypes of the era."

To Serve My Country, to Serve My Race : The Story of the Only African American Wacs Stationed Overseas During World War II

The Right to Fight: A History of African Americans in the Military
by Gerald Astor

An all-encompassing chronicle of African Americans' in the armed forces of the United States. From the birth of the United States, African American men and women have fought and died in defense of a nation that has often denied them many fundamental rights of citizenship. Now Gerald Astor has chronicled their efforts and accomplishments in this critically acclaimed survey. From Crispus Attucks, first casualty of the American Revolution, to fighters on both sides of the Civil War, Astor moves to the postwar Indian campaigns and the infamous Brownsville riot. He also documents the prejudices and grievous wrongs that have kept African Americans from service-and finally traces their ascent to the highest levels. The Right to Fight is a groundbreaking contribution to American history. [Order now... ]

Queen Bess: Daredevil Aviator
The first African-American aviator to earn an international pilots license was a woman...

Black Wings : The American Black in Aviation
Paperback - 80 pages (February 1988)

Movie: Home of the Brave (1949) Video Description
Based on the play by Arthur Laurents, this film recounts the story of a young black private who suffered a nervous breakdown. Peter Moss' condition was induced by his experience on a reconnaissance mission during WWII and by a lifetime of racial discrimination. Crippled by rage and trauma, he has developed psychosomatic paralysis. But if he can overcome his anger and frustration, he might just walk again. One of the first bold stances taken on the race issue in Hollywood, though tame by today's standards, the universal message is obviously still very relevant and worthwhile.


This page is hosted as part of the COMBAT! web site.

African-Americans Proudly Serving in WWII

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Tuskegee Airmen

Keep Us Flying, Buy War Bonds
Keep Us Flying, Buy War Bonds Poster
Buy This

Poster of a Tuskegee Airman William Diez was used to promote war bonds during World War II

They battled Nazism and Fascism in the skies over North Africa and Europe, and racism on the ground back in the United States. They painted the tails of their P-51s bright red, and names like "Hammerin' Hank," "Creamer's Dream," and "'Mo' Downs" on the sides of their aircraft. But what really made the Tuskegee Airmen distinct was the fact that they never lost a bomber during some 200 escort missions during World War II. 
— from Air Force News Service article, Aug 1995
by Master Sgt. Merrie Schilter Lowe

Tuskegee Airmen facts:

Tuskegee Army Air Field, located at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, was the training center for all black fighter pilots during World War II.

There were 996 original Airmen. These included pilots, bombardiers, and navigators.

More than 10,000 black men and women served as their vital support personnel.

450 served in combat overseas in the European Theater of Operations, North Africa, and the Mediterranean. 

66 of the Tuskegee aviators died in combat. 

33 Tuskegee Airmen became prisoners of war.

None of the bombers they escorted was lost to enemy fighters.

They flew 15,533 sorties between May, 1943 and June 9, 1945.

They destroyed 251 enemy aircraft.

They sank a German destroyer using only their machine guns. 

They disabled more than 600 box cars, locomotives and rolling stock. 

They won more than 850 medals, including 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, eight Purple Hearts, 14 Bronze Stars, 744 Air Medals and clusters, and three distinguished unit citations. 

For every pilot, there were at least 10 black men and women on the ground in support roles including mechanics, medical technicians, administrative support and cooks. They were trained at Chanute Field, Illinois.

White American pilots were not allowed to fly more than 52 missions, but black American pilots often flew up to 100 missions due to lack of replacements.

The all-black 477th bomber group was activated and scheduled to
fight in the Pacific, but the war ended before their deployment.

Planes flown by black aviators in WWII: the P-51 Mustang, P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-39, and the PT-13D Trainer.

Tuskegee Airmen in the News

Tuskegee Art Print for Sale

Text of the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial in Walterboro, South Carolina:

The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II

In honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, their instructors and ground support personnel who participated in preparing for combat training at the Walterboro Army Airfield during the Second World War.

Because of their heroic action in combat they were called Schwartze Vogelmenschen (black bird men) by the Germans who both feared and respected them. White American bomber crews in reverence referred to them as the "Red Tail Angels" because of the identifying red paint on their tail assemblies and because of their reputation for not losing any aircraft they protected to enemy fighters as they provided fighter coverage for missions over strategic targets in Europe.

A Brief Timeline:

  • The first black Civilian Pilot Training Program students completed their instruction at Tuskegee in May 1940.

  • Congress activated the all-black 99th Fighter Squadron on March 22, 1941. 

  • May 31, 1943 the 99th Squadron arrived in North Africa.

  • On July 2, 1943, Lt Hall of Indiana became the first member of the squadron to shoot down a German Focke Wulf 190 aircraft while flying escort duty in Sicily.

  • The 99th was paired with the all-white 79th Fighter Group on October 9, 1943 — for the first time they were integrated in missions. No longer restricted to escort duties, they bombed key German targets.

  • On July 4, 1944, the 99th was joined into three other Squadrons: the 100th, 301st and the 302nd Squadrons to form the 332nd Fighter Group, all of which had been trained at Tuskegee. 

  • The group earned a Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation for a spectacular escort mission to Berlin on 24 March 1945.

  • On April 26, 1945, the Tuskegee Airmen downed the last four enemy aircraft destroyed in combat in the Mediterranean theater. 


The mission was always the dominating factor. It was a life and death operation, and it was important to our nation. retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, the Airmen's former commander.

The history of the United States is steeped in contributions of the Air Force, formerly Army Air Corps, in preserving and maintaining freedom. The American airmen have been victorious in all of our nation's conflicts. It is important that we continue to acknowledge the sacrifices and service of these men who perform so admirably. I know the accomplishments of the brave and dedicated Tuskegee Airmen will never be forgotten.
— President Ronald Reagan  

Bibliography: Books about the Tuskegee Airmen

Black Knights: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen
by Lynn M. Homan, Thomas Reilly

Told through interviews with veterans and historical photos, Black Knights is the story of the men and women who served in the training program at Tuskegee Army Air Field from 1941 to 1946. Based on rigorous research and analysis, what makes this book unique is inclusion of first-hand accounts: the pilots stories are here, as are the experiences of the mechanics, band members, armorers, staff officers, nurses, and more.

List Price: $23.00's Price: $16.10
You Save: $6.90 (30%) prices subject to change.

Tuskegee Airmen
by:Lynn M. Homan and Thomas Reilly
24 November, 1998

Using photos provided by the Tuskegee Airmen and their families, the Smithsonian Institution, and NASA, the authors bring to life the trials and triumphs of the Tuskegee Experience. In these more enlightened times, we can relive the struggles of those African-Americans who wanted to serve, who demanded equality, and who yearned to fly.'s Price: $18.99 prices subject to change.

The Tuskegee Airmen: African-American Pilots of World War II (Journey to Freedom-The African American Library)
by: Sarah E. De Capua
October, 2003

List Price: $28.50's Price: $19.95
You Save: $8.55 (30%) prices subject to change.

The Tuskegee Airmen Mutiny at Freeman Field
by: James C. Warren, William B. Ellis
January, 1998's Price: $14.95 prices subject to change.
The Tuskegee Airmen (American Mosaic)
by: Judy L. Hasday, Chelsea House Publications
May, 2003's Price: $22.95 prices subject to change.

A-Train : Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman
by Charles W. Dryden
Hardcover - 432 pages (April 1997), Univ. of Alabama Press
A-Train is the autobiography of Tuskegee airman Charles W. Dryden. An honest, fast-paced, balanced, vividly written, and very personal account of what it was like to be a black soldier, and specifically a pilot, during World War II and the Korean War. A balanced account by an insightful man who enlisted in a segregated army and retired from an integrated air force. Dryden's account is poignant in illuminating the hurt inflicted by racism on even the most successful black people. An eloquent memoir of the experiences he has shared and the changes he has witnessed.

Survival : A Purple Heart Tuskegee Airman
by John Steward Sloan, Sr.
Riveting first-person account of Sloan's experiences as a decorated airman. He describes each mission with a vivid immediacy that recreates a palpable sense of danger and the adrenaline rush of nerves kicking in under pressure. When his aircraft was shot down, he found himself the only Black man in a large military field hospital, which proved to be a different kind of lesson in survival. An unflinching, compelling account of a little-known chapter in the chronicles of WWII and African-American history.

The Freeman Field Mutiny : A Tuskegee Airman Story
by James C. Warren
(August 1995) The Conyers Publishing Company
Documented story about a "Mutiny" in the 477th Bombardment Group that occurred at Freeman Field, Seymour, Indiana, on April 5, 1945 involving over 162 black officers. The mutiny was a protest and an assault on segregated policies of staff at Headquarters Army Air Forces. The mutiny illustrated that the black officer was capable of showing initiative and anger. Moreover, he could organize and use regulations to his advantage. This action was unprecedented in the annals of the Army Air Forces.

Double V:
The Civil Rights Struggle of the Tuskegee Airmen

by Lawrence P. Scott, William M. Womack
Paperback - 322 pages (December 1998)
Michigan State Univ Pr

On April 12, 1945, the United States Army Air Force arrested 101 African-American officers. They were charged with disobeying a direct order from a superior officer - a charge that carried the death penalty upon conviction. They had refused to sign an order that would have placed them in segregated housing and recreational facilities. The central theme of Double V is the promise held out to African-American military personnel that World War II would deliver to them a double victory, or "double v" - over tyranny abroad and racial prejudice at home. Book details how 101 Tuskegee Airmen, by refusing to live in segregated quarters, triggered one of the most significant judicial proceedings in U.S. military history. Double V uses oral accounts and government documents to portray this little-known struggle by one of America's most celebrated flying units.

Tuskegee Airman : The Biography of Charles E. McGee, Air Force Fighter Combat Record Holder
Hardcover - 208 pages (June 1999)
Branden Publishing Co.
List price $24.95

Segregated Skies

All-Black Combat Squadrons of WWII
(Smithsonian History of Aviation Series)
by Stanley Sandler




Tuskegee Airmen Books for  young readers:

The Tuskegee Airmen Story
by Lynn M. Homan, Thomas Reilly
October, 2002

For Kindergarten - Grade 3.
After two African-American children find their grandfather's World War II uniform and medals, their grandmother encourages them to ask him about the war...

Tuskegee Airmen: American Heroes
by: Lynn M. Homan, Thomas Reilly, Roaslie M. Shepherd, Rosalie M. Shepherd
October, 2002
A novel for grades 5 - 8.

The Tuskegee Airmen (Cornerstones of Freedom)
by Linda George, Charles George
March, 2001
Reading level: Ages 9-12

African American Military Heroes
(Black Stars Series)
Reading level:
Ages 9-12
     African Americans have been a valuable part of the United States military since before there even was a United States, fighting at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill. From the American Revolution to Colin Powell, read about the black men and women who have served bravely in the US military.
     Many young readers will probably already know who General Colin Powell is, but have they heard of Brigadier General Hazel Johnson, the United States Army's first African American woman general? Or Guion S. Bluford Jr., the first African American in space? African Americans have been a valuable part of the United States military since before there even was a United States, when Peter Salem fought at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill. Jim Haskins's lively stories, which include definitions of military vocabulary words, bring 30 American heroes to life, and also tell how, for years, African Americans were only able to defend their country in segregated troops. There are some surprises, particularly in the stories about women. Many grownups might not know about Deborah Sampson, who fought disguised as a man during the Revolutionary War, or that Harriet Tubman, the leader of the Underground Railroad, was also a spy for the Union Army in the Civil War.
$24.95 (
Check Amazon's discount price)

Red-Tail Angels : The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II
by Pat McKissack, Patricia McKissack, Fredrick L. McKissack
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover - 136 pages (May 2001)
     A history of the Tuskegee Airmen. The authors address such issues as the hostile treatment these airmen often received as well as their below-par training facilities. By telling the history of this squadron, the authors also explore the historical climate of the time--outlining the racial history and tension in the United States. The text, which includes many firsthand accounts, is illustrated with b&w photographs.
(Check Amazon discount price)

The Black Soldier : 1492 to the Present
by Catherine clintonz
     This exciting story of African American heroism traces the history of the black soldier, from the African explorers who accompanied Columbus to African Americans who took up arms in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and Desert Storm.

Films about the Tuskegee Airmen


[Tuskegee] [USS Mason] [Red Ball Express] [Buffalo Soldiers]
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