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Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. Essay

534 words - 2 pages

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. was born December 18, 1912 in Washington D.C. His father, Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. was one of the few African-American officers in the U.S. Army. Davis, Jr. was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy in 1932 by Rep. Oscar S. De Priest, the only black congressman at that time. At West Point he endured ostracism from both classmates and superiors who wanted to see him fail. He persevered and graduated 35th in a class of 276 in 1936. He was the fourth African-American graduate in the Academy’s history. Upon commissioning he and his father became the only two black officers in the army. His application to the Army Air Corps was refused because the Air Corps did not accept African-Americans.

Davis was serving as an ROTC instructor at Tuskegee Institute in 1940 when President Franklin Roosevelt became worried about his support among the black community during his third presidential election campaign. To solidify African-American support he promoted Benjamin Davis, Sr. to brigadier general and ordered the army air corps to create a black flying organization.

Davis, Jr. was one of the first African-American pilots in the Army Air Corps and was given command of the first all-black air unit, the 99th Pursuit Squadron, popularly know as the Tuskegee Airmen. Davis later commanded the 332nd Fighter Group. The 332nd became know as the Red Tails because of the readily identifiable design on their planes. Davis fought two enemies during World War II, the Axis and the racism of his own service. He had to defend his unit’s existence in testimony to a War Department committee and endure criticism and slights from his...

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