Gen. Daniel R. “Chappie” James Jr. (1920-1978), a Tuskegee Airmen who trained and served during World War II, in 1975 became the first African American to achieve the grade of four-star general. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James Jr. was the U.S. Air Force's first African American four-star general. Upon being promoted to four-star grade on Sept.1, 1975, James was assigned as Commander in Chief North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), a position he held until his retirement on Feb. 1, 1978. He died 24 days later.
James -- who served in World War II, the Korean War and the Southeast Asia War -- summed up his thoughts on his role as an American serviceman:
"I've fought in three wars and three more wouldn't be too many to defend my country. I love America and as she has weaknesses or ills, I'll hold her hand."