Tuskegee Airman Benjamin O. Davis Jr.
Davis was made CO of the 99th Fighter Squadron at Tuskegee Army Air Field and deployed with his unit to North Africa in April 1943. The 99th flew its first combat mission in P-40L type aircraft on a patrol over the Mediterranean Sea. At this juncture they were attached to the 33rd Fighter Group. They were tasked with ground support, fighter-bomber missions as well as escorting bombers. A month later on the first of July Lt. Charles B. Hall of Brazil Indiana scored the first victory for the squadron when he shot down an FW-190 while escorting B-25 medium bombers on a raid to Castelvetrano in south-western Sicily. Lt. W. I. "Ace" Lawson also claimed the probable destruction of another FW-190 and damaged an Me-109.
In late August after less than three months in combat, Davis was sent back to the United States. He arrived home and found there was a move to prevent the further use of black pilots in combat. Senior white officers in the Army Air Forces had recommended Army chief of staff, General George Marshall, that the 99th be removed from combat operations citing a poor performance record. Davis was ordered to testify on 16 October 1943 before the Senate Advisory Committee in Washington DC where he was grilled with charges of the alleged poor performance of his men. Davis effectively fielded the questions but General Marshall ordered an inquiry while allowing the 99th to remain in combat. The inquiry eventually reported that the 99th's performance was comparable to other air units, but any questions about the squadron's fitness were answered on 27 January 1944 when its pilots shot down 10 Nazi planes over the Anzio Beachead and followed those victories with a further three the following day.
By the end of the war the Tuskegee Airmen had compiled an outstanding combat record. They flew more than 15,000 sorties, shot down 112 enemy planes, and destroyed or damaged 273 on the ground at a cost of 66 of their own planes while losing very few bombers to enemy fighters. Colonel Davis led by example and continued flying combat missions right up to the end of hostilities. He remained in the Air Force after the war and again flew combat missions in the F-86 Sabre in Korea. In 1953 he assumed command of the51st Fighter Interceptor Wing. He retired from active military service on February 1, 1970. On December 9, 1998, Davis Jr. was promoted to general, U.S. Air Force (retired), with President Bill Clinton pinning on his four-star insignia. He passed away on 4 July 2002.
General Davis' military decorations include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters and the Philippine Legion of Honour. He was a command pilot.
Open Edition Canvas Giclée Print. Image size: 18"x10"
This painting is one part of a quadriptych featuring one plane of each of the four squadrons which made up the all black 332nd Fighter Group- the famed Tuskegee Airmen. "Creamer's Dream" was a P-51D assigned to Lt. Charles White of the 301st FS, 332nd FG in 1945. White is credited with two victories scored during the big April Fool's dogfight on 1 April 1945.
The Tuskegee Airmen Quadriptych by Troy White
Canvas Giclée prints available now!
Collect all Four!