That's A Fact: Benjamin O. Davis

In 1954, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., became the first African American general in the U.S. Air Force. His father, Benjamin Sr. became in 1940 the first African-American brigadier general in the Army. A West Point graduate, Davis Jr. was among the first group of African-Americans admitted to pilot training in the Army Air Corps. At West Point, Davis felt fierce racism from the other cadets. At the time he got his commission in 1936, he was just the fourth Black West Point graduate and with his father, one of only two black officers in the Army.

Davis, Jr. would go on to form the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the first African-American air unit. The squadron flew tactical support missions in the Mediterranean Theatre. In 1943, Davis commanded the 332nd Fighter Group, the Tuskegee Airmen. During World War II, Davis flew 60 combat missions. 

In June 2020, General Charles Q. Brown was confirmed by the Senate as the Air Force Chief of Staff, becoming the first African-American service chief in U.S. history. As a pilot, Brown said that he was the only African-American in his squadron.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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