Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

//Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

Inducted in 2022

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. was the first black brigadier general in the USAF.

December 18, 1912 – July 4, 2002

Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. was a United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen. He was the first African-American brigadier general in the USAF. Davis Jr was born December 18th, 1912 in Washington, DC. He earned a 1932 nomination to the U.S. Military Academy from Rep. Oscar S. De Priest (R-Ill.), then America’s only black congressman. He was the first African-American to be admitted to the Academy since Reconstruction.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the Army Air Corps to create a flying organization for African-American troops. Davis Jr., the only living black West Point graduate, was ordered from Ft. Benning, Ga., to Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. Davis would see the Tuskegee Airmen swell in ranks to 1,000 and form the 99th Pursuit Squadron, later the 332d Fighter Squadron. By the end of the war Davis had flown 60 combat missions and had been promoted to colonel.

Davis also served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. He ended his career as deputy commander in chief of the U.S. Air Force. After retiring in 1970, he served as an assistant secretary at the Department of Transportation under President Richard M. Nixon. On December 9, 1998, he was promoted to General, U.S. Air Force (retired). Davis died July 4th, 2002 at age 89.