Clarence D. Lester
Lt Clarence Lester (right) with P-51 Mustang Group Fliers in Italy, 1944
|Born||February 23, 1923|
Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia
|Died||March 17, 1986 63) (aged|
Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, USA
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Years of service||1942-1969|
|Unit|| 322nd Fighter Squadron |
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Clarence D. “Lucky” Lester (February 23, 1923 – March 17, 1986) was an African-American fighter pilot in the 332nd Fighter Group, commonly known as the Tuskegee Airmen, during World War II. He was one of the first African-American military aviators in the United States Army Air Corps, the United States Army Air Forces and later the United States Air Force.Lester was one of two pilots who shot down three Focke-Wulf Fw 190 or Messerschmitt Bf 109 on a single mission; the other pilot was Captain Joseph Elsberry. Lester flew a P-51 Mustang nicknamed "Miss Pelt."
The Tuskegee Airmen is the popular name of a group of African-American military pilots (fighter and bomber) who fought in World War II. They formed the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces. The name also applies to the navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and other support personnel. Lester recalls that "Being a black pilot in the 1940s was like being a pro athlete today ... We knew we were special, that we would have to prove something. This was the first chance blacks had had outside of working in the kitchen or the possiblity [sic] of being a truck driver."White pilots would fly around 50 combat missions but because there were no replacements, black pilots of the Tuskegee Airmen flew around 70 missions. During the war he flew over 90 combat missions.
While flying an F-84E Thunderjet it experienced mechanical failure and exploded into flames forcing Lester to yank his ejection seat and parachute from the inflamed jet, which made him "only the sixth pilot ever to use the ejection method."Later in his career he also worked with the infamous "Whiz kids" that Robert McNamara assembled at the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In 1969 Lester retired as a full colonel and was then appointed as associate director of social services in Rockville, Maryland.
The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of primarily African-American military pilots and airmen who fought in World War II. They formed the 332nd Expeditionary Operations Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces. The name also applies to the navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and other support personnel.
Lee Andrew Archer, Jr. was an African-American fighter pilot in the 332nd Fighter Group, commonly known as the Tuskegee Airmen, during World War II. He was one of the first African-American military aviators in the United States Army Air Corps, the United States Army Air Forces and later the United States Air Force, eventually earning the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Wendell Oliver Pruitt was a pioneering African-American military pilot and Tuskegee Airman originally from St. Louis, Missouri. He was killed during a training exercise in 1945. After his death, his name, along with William L. Igoe's was given to the Pruitt–Igoe public housing complex in St. Louis.
Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. was an American United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen.
Lt. Col Spann Watson was a Tuskegee Airman serving in World War II. He flew over 30 missions for the famed squadron over North Africa, Italy and Southern Europe. On March 2007, Watson attended a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol rotunda, where he and other surviving veterans of the Tuskegee Airmen were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their service. He died on April 15, 2010, aged 93.
Willa Beatrice Brown was an American aviator, lobbyist, teacher, and civil rights activist. She was the first African American woman to earn a pilot's license in the United States, the first African American woman to run for the United States Congress, first African American officer in the Civil Air Patrol, and first woman in the U.S. to have both a pilot's license and an aircraft mechanic's license.
Brigadier General Charles Edward McGee is a retired American fighter pilot and one of the last living members of the Tuskegee Airmen, an all African-American military pilot group who fought during World War II. He was a career officer in the United States Air Force for more than 30 years and flew a three-war total of 409 combat missions in WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, one of the highest combat totals and longest active-duty careers by any Air Force fighter pilot in history.
Herbert Eugene Carter was an American Retired Lt. Colonel of the United States Air Force. Carter was a member of the original thirty-three members of the Tuskegee Airmen. Carter flew seventy-seven missions with the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.
Calvin J. Spann was an original Tuskegee Airman and fighter pilot with the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group. Spann received his wings from the Tuskegee Flight School as a part of the graduating class of 44G. As a member of the United States Army Air Corps, he served in Europe during World War II, where Spann flew 26 combat missions before the end of the war in the European Theatre.
Charles Alfred Anderson, Sr., was an American aviator who is known as the Father of Black Aviation. He earned the nickname "Chief" as chief flight instructor of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Colonel William A. Campbell was a highly decorated member of the famed group of World War II-era African-American pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen. He had a long and storied military career, having served as a wingman in the first combat mission of the Tuskegee Airmen, risen to the rank of Group Commander of the 332nd Fighter Group shortly after World War II, and then serving in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Lt. Col. James Bernard Knighten was one of the first twelve African-Americans to become a pilot in the United States Army Air Corps after graduating from flight school at the Tuskegee Army Air Field. He became a member of the famed 99th Fighter Squadron, part of the World War II-era group of highly decorated African-American aviators known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Knighten flew in the first combat mission by African American pilots on June 9, 1943. Knighten's military career continued through the Korean and Vietnam Wars. After retiring from the military in 1968, he had a 20-year career with the Federal Aviation Administration as an operations inspector in New York and later in Los Angeles. Known as a jokester through his military career, Knighten began performing as a stand-up comedian in Las Vegas under the name of Jay Bernard during his years at the FAA, finally moving to Las Vegas to perform full-time after retiring from his position with the FAA.
John Charles Robinson was an American aviator and activist who was hailed as the "Brown Condor" for his service in the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force against Fascist Italy. Robinson pushed for equal opportunities for African-Americans during his early career, and was able to open his own eponymous aviation school in addition to initiating a program for black pilots at his college, the Tuskegee Institute. Robinson's achievements as an aviator were in stark contrast to the limited opportunities for most African-Americans in aviation careers, and were an important factor in reducing racially based prohibitions in the United States. Robinson is sometimes referred to as the "Father of the Tuskegee Airmen" for inspiring this all-black group of pilots who served in the United States Army Air Forces following the United States' entry into World War II.
Lowell Steward was born in Los Angeles and was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew missions during World War II. For his service, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross and other medals. As a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, he received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.
John Lyman Whitehead Jr. was an American who served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He was the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, the first to become a jet pilot instructor, and the first to fly the Boeing B-47 Stratojet bomber.
LT COL George Hardy is a highly decorated member of the famed group of World War II-era African-American pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Hardy had a 30 year military career and he flew combat missions in three wars. In World War II Hardy flew 21 combat missions. In the Korean War he flew 45 combat mission as the pilot of a bomber. In the Vietnam War Hardy flew flew 70 combat missions piloting an AC-119K gunship.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Jones Friend was a Tuskegee airman during World War II and led the USAF's Project Blue Book from 1958 to 1963. He also served during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He had a 28 year military career.
Lt. Col. Paul Adams (1920-2013) was a World War II pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen. He was awarded the Congressional Bronze medal for his service in World War II. He was one of the first black teachers in the Lincoln Nebraska public school system. Adams also served as the president of the Lincoln Chapter of the NAACP. In 2008 the city of Lincoln Nebraska built a new elementary school and named it after Adams. The mascot of the school in an aviator.
Captain Lawrence Dickson (1920-1944) from Bronx, New York, was World War II pilot and a member of the famed group of World War II-era African-Americans known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Dickson flew 68 mission in World War II before he was forced to eject from his aircraft over Austria in 1944. Dickson was declared missing in action. On July 27, 2018, Dickson's remains were identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
Lt. Col John "Ellis" Edwards from Steubenville, Ohio, is a member of the famed group of World War II-era African-Americans known as the Tuskegee Airmen. He was a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. Edwards served in the 332nd Fighter Group During WWII and he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross award. He also served as a pilot in the Korean War.