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Stateside Training Experiences

Rollers, such as this one driven by an African American engineer at Bacolod Strip in the Philippines in May 1945, smoothed out rough spots left by heavier equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Rollers, such as this one driven by an African American engineer at Bacolod Strip in the Philippines in May 1945, smoothed out rough spots left by heavier equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Despite the Army's reluctance, thousands of blacks entered the AAF, and of the 157 EABs that saw duty in World War II, 48 were segregated black units. All of those units received uneven training, but the black units faced additional difficulties arising from segregation. These troops often had substandard living and recreational facilities, and they encountered suspicion and hostility from white units and local white civilians. Even more detrimental to morale, black units frequently had their training interrupted to do housekeeping chores. For example, soldiers from the 857th EAB training at Eglin Field, Fla., frequently had to stop their training to work on menial and unrelated jobs. As a result, they participated in only one field training problem, the completion of a heavy bar and rod runway. Reflecting the uneven training so prevalent during the early years of the war, the 811th EAB had little more than a month of training at Langley Field, Va., before being shipped overseas, but the 810th EAB received six months of training with heavy equipment and built roads and bridges at MacDill Field, Fla., before it went overseas.

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