Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Black Bloggers Connect: BHM ENTRY" BLACK HISTORY MONTH CHALLENGE - DAY 16: A prestigious 4-Star

General Daniel 'Chappie' James Jr.

I apologize, I've slacked off a couple days on my posting.  Day 16 of the challenge, I chose to write about Daniel James Jr.  'M' and I were watching The Tuskegee Airmen and his name came up.  I decided to read up on Mr. James and what I found was a story worth mentioning.

Daniel "Chappie" James Jr. was born in February 1920, in Pensacola, FL, where he graduated from Washington High School in June 1937.  He attended Tuskegee Institute at Tuskegee, AL, where he received a bachelor of science degree in physical education and completed civilian pilot training under the government-sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program.   He remained at Tuskegee as a civilian instructor pilot in the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program until January 1943, when he entered the program as a cadet and received his commission as a second lieutenant later that July.  Throughout World War II he trained members of the all African American 99th Pursuit Squadron and worked other assignments.  He did not, however, see any combat until the Korean war.  

In September 1949, James went to the Philippines and was assigned to the 18th Fighter Wing, at Clark Field.  In July 1950 he went to Korea where he flew 101 combat missions in F-51 and F-80 Shooting Star aircraft during the Korean War. 

In July 1951, after returning to the United States, James went to Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts where he was assigned as an all-weather jet fighter pilot, and later as the squadron commander.  After assignments in England and Arizona, James went to Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in December 1966.  He flew 78 combat missions into North Vietnam, many in the Hanoi/Haiphong area, and led a flight in the Bolo MiG sweep in which seven Communist MiG-21s were destroyed, the highest total kill of any mission during the Vietnam War. 

In December 1967, James was named vice commander of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.  In 1969, while still stationed at Eglin, State Jaycees named him as Florida's Outstanding American of the Year.  Additionally, he received the Jaycee Distinguished Service Award.  He was transferred to Wheelus Air Base in the Libyan Arab Republic, in August 1969, as commander of the 7272nd Fighter Training Wing. 

On March 31, 1970; General James became Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and on April 20, 1973 he was designated as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.  

On September 1, 1975; General James was promoted to four-star grade, making him the first African-American promoted to the rank of Air Force four-star general.  He was assigned as commander in chief, NORAD/ADCOM, Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.  He had operational command of all United States and Canadian strategic aerospace defense forces. His last position was special assistant to the Air Force chief of staff.  

He was awarded the George Washington Freedom Foundation Medal in 1967 and again in 1968.  He received the Arnold Air Society Eugene M. Zuckert Award, in 1970, for outstanding contributions to Air Force professionalism. His citation read 
"...fighter pilot with a magnificent record, public speaker, and eloquent spokesman for the American Dream we so rarely achieve."

James retired from active service on Feb. 1, 1978 and died later that month on Feb 25. 

James was a recognized civil rights pioneer.  His career spanned three wars and 30 years.  He was one of the great Tuskegee Airmen and he, along with his fellow airmen, paved so many roads for African Americans. 

No comments:

Post a Comment