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Benjamin O. Davis Jr.

  • The first black cadet in the 20th century to graduate from West Point.
  • Ordered to attend pilot training at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama in 1941 and then take command of the first all-black flying unit .
  • In March of 1942, he became the first black pilot to earn his wings.
  • Personally stopped a recommendation, which called for the removal of black squadrons from combat duty.
  • Led the 332nd Fighter Group into battle in Italy and inspired them in the same manner as the 99th whom he led in North Africa. His men continued to prove that performance in combat is not dependent on race.
  • Promoted to full colonel in May 1944 and, in September, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
  • Promoted to Brigadier General in 1954 becoming the Air Force’s first black general officer after the Air Force ended legal discrimination in the Armed Forces.
  • Created a headquarters in 1955 in Taiwan to defend against a Chinese Communist attack.
  • Served as Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, for the US Air Force in Europe and Chief of Staff of the US and UN Forces in Korea.

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