Thursday, January 21, 2010

The first black fighter pilot

Many people now know of the Tuskeege, and their long list of accomplishments over the skies of Europe during the second World War. The Tuskeege Airmen flew in the segregated 99th Pursuit Squadron and carried out several missions. By the end of WWII, they were the most requested squadron for bomber escort. When the United States Air Force became it's own seperate entity after World War II, segregation in the Armed forces had completely ended and fighter pilots of all races flew in the same squadrons.

But the Tuskeege Airmen were not the first Black fighter pilots. There was at least one Black fighter pilot in World War One, which was known then as "The Great War."

A man by the name of Eugene Bullard, hailing from Columbus Georgia, was a fighter pilot for the French in World War One. Bullard was born in 1894. After growing up in [and tired of] the Jim Crow South, he caught a boat going to Scotland, and later found himself in France. Bullard made a good life for himself as a boxer and as a musician before the start of WWI. He and many other Americans flew as pilots for the Lafayette Flying Corps. His accomplishments in the Lafayette Flying Corps include flying over 20 combat missions and two confirmed kills.

The United States entered the war in 1917, and sought to recruit some of the Americans that were already flying for the Lafayette Flying Corps. Bullard passed the medical examination, but was denied the opportunity to fly for the United States Army Air Corps because of his skin color. Bullard would be transferred from the Lafayette Flying Corps to the French Infantry after getting into a fight with a French Officer.

When World War I ended, Bullard went back into his life as a socialite in Paris, France. Bullard was a Polymath: He was good at many things. But when Nazi Germany invaded France, he found himself on the run. He managed to escape France and return to the United States, were he was subjected to the brutal system of oppression that he had once escaped. He wad once beaten badly by an angry mob during the Peekskill riots.

Bullard never obtained the status that he once had in Europe. He died of stomach cancer in 1961.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant and TIMELY as usual. Thank you for schooling us on a steady basis.