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  • Exposure Suits for Sea Rescue

    Exposure suits protected downed pilots and other aircrew and passengers from freezing in the icy waters of the Yellow Sea between Korea and Japan. Fighter pilots commonly wore exposure suits while flying, since they would not have time to put one on if they had to eject from a damaged aircraft. Aircrew and passengers in larger aircraft like bombers
  • End of an Era

    The sergeant pilot training program ended in late 1942 since the educational requirement for cadets had been lowered to that for an aviation student (high school diploma) and all students were to be appointed at graduation as flight officers or second lieutenants. The promotion of those pilots still sergeants was ordered on Nov. 17, 1942, but
  • Enlisted Pilots: 1912-1945

    "It is not the policy of the War Department to train enlisted men in flying aeroplanes ..." This was the rebuke to Lt. Frank P. Lahm's message announcing that one of the two new aviators he had trained was a corporal. Yet in USAF history about 4,150 pilots trained and flew not as commissioned officers but as enlisted men -- almost 3,000 rated
  • End of Segregation

    After the war, a Board of Officers met in 1946 to evaluate the aviation engineer experience and discuss the future of black engineer units. Showing how little impact the successful efforts of the black EABs made on thwarting institutional and individual bias, the board recommended:"It follows that, because technical skills are relatively seldom
  • EAB in China-Burma-India

    During the first two years of the war, the black aviation engineering operations in the China-Burma-India Theater bore little resemblance to what had been envisioned in 1941. Since the 10th Air Force relied upon British engineers and Indian laborers for airbase construction, they played a critical role in securing the lifeline to China. After the
  • EAB in the Pacific

    Most of the black EAB units formed during World War II served in the Pacific Theater of Operations or the China-Burma-India Theater of Operation. The first two black aviation engineer units shipped out of the United States were the 810th EAB and the 811th EAB. Listening to rumors that they would be shipped to a cold climate, the troops of the 810th
  • EAB in Europe and the Mediterranean

    Justifying it by expressing a concern over the long-term presence of blacks in England, the Army had only seven EABs in Europe at the war's end. Ironically, those black soldiers sent to England found the English more accepting than the Americans at their training bases. In North Africa and the Mediterranean, the 812th EAB covered a lot of ground.
  • Engineer Aviation Battalions

    In 1939 Gen. Hap Arnold negotiated with the U.S. Army Chief of Engineers for a special engineer unit to work with the Air Corps. The original concept envisioned a small group of skilled construction and engineer troops, closely trained alongside air units, with the ability to repair bomb damaged airfields, to camouflage airfields and if necessary,
  • Edward C. Gleed Flying Jacket

    This World War II flying jacket belonged to Tuskegee Airman Col. (Ret.) Edward C. Gleed. Enlisting in the 9th Calvary in 1941, Gleed was assigned to military intelligence. In 1942 he entered aviation cadet training at Tuskegee, Ala., and graduated in December as a second lieutenant. During WWII, Gleed became the 332nd Fighter Group's operations
  • Escort Excellence

    While the 99th Fighter Squadron continued to fight its way through Sicily and Italy alongside white units, Benjamin Davis returned to the United States to take command of the new 332nd Fighter Group. Another segregated unit, the 332nd included three fighter squadrons -- the 100th, 301st and 302nd -- equipped with Bell P-39 Airacobras. In February
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