16 Dec 2022
Tomorrow, December 17, marks the 119thy anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight, and every year to mark the event the First Flight Society inducts a new name into the Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine at the Wright Brothers National Memorial..
This year General Benjamin Davis, Jr. will be enshrined.
Davis led a remarkable career in the service, beginning his time in the military in the Army and retiring in 1970.
It is not the length of his service that he is known for. General Davis was the first black Brigadier General in the US Air Force, retiring as a Lieutenant General in 1970. That rank was changed to Major General (ret.) in 1998 by President Clinton.
That he was the first USAF African-American general is not surprising. He was the first commander of the famed Tuskagee Airman of WWII—the all Black fighter squadron of the war. He also commanded a bomber squadron later in the war.
The USAF became a separate branch of the military in 1947, formed from what had been the US Army Air Corps. Davis continued to fly aircraft in the new service and flew combat missions during the Korean War. He was a colonel at the time.
In October of 1954 he was promoted to Brigadier General.
Born in 1912, Davis was the son of Benjamin Davis, who himself had a distinguished military career, retiring as the first African American Brigadier General in the US Army.
General Benjamin Davis, Jr, passed away in 2002.
Named for the first curator of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, inductees to the Paul E. Garber Shirne are selected by the First Flight Society.
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