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Original scanned September 27, 2002. Reduced Print-for full sized print, see Davis Box 163, Folder 3 Saturday. June 30, 1945 THE JOURNAL AND GUIDE ^[[handwritten text]] 1945 [[/handwritten text]] Page 5 [[column 1 article]] History Of Negro In Air Forces Like Story of Freedom's Fight The HISTORY of the 477th Bombardment group has been one of morale breaking incidents and shattering of the hopes of its men since its organization, and all have [[suffered?]] from the policy of racial separation in the American Armed Forces which inevitably leads to [[rank?]] discrimination. From the outset the Army Air Forces has considered the Negro as an "experiment", and the conditioning to make him a first class fighting airman or crewman has been tainted by the Air Forces' leadership refusing to consider him other than an "experiment." In his resignation in February, [19?]], as civilian aide to the Secretary of War, out of protest against the Army policy of racial segregation William H. [[H-?]] said: "The tragedy is that of not wanting the Negro in the first place and by doubting his capacity, the Air Command has committed itself psychologically to courses of action which themselves become major [[/column 1 article]] [[column 2]] obstacles in the success of Negroes in the Air Forces." This American "tragedy" has been unfolding since 1940, when the Air Force was not a mighty weapon of [[2,000,000]] men and machines it is today. The foundations were being made for this mighty instrument of victory. At this time, [[10 units?]] of aviation Squadron (Separate) were established. They had no specific job and performed any and all common labor jobs at airfields. FIRST ACCEPTED IN 1941 In March, 1941, nine months before Pearl Harbor and war, the first applications were accepted for aviation cadet training. Several months later, actual training began at the segregated Tuskegee Air Base with training limited to pursuit flying. These pioneers formed the basis for the 99th Fighter Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group and [[?]] a memorable record for full accomplishment with the equipment and opportunity provided. Later, the 332nd Fighter Group caused the Air Forces command many headaches before they could be packed and shipped overseas where they, too, wrote a fine combat record in the all-out battle against Germany. Whereas racial incidents were minimized in the life of the 99th, mainly because the Air Forces had succeeded in keeping them at Tuskegee, the problems flared with the movement of the 332nd to Selfridge Field, Mich., where the same type of "incidents" arose which has plagued the 477th Bombardment Group. Most publicized incident at Tuskegee was the removal of Col. Kimble, commanding officer, who was accused of practicing vicious principles of race discrimination at the segregated field. He was replaced by the present commander, Col. Noel F. Parrish. First official announcement that Negroes would be trained as bombardiers and pilots was made on Sept. [[1?]], 1943, by Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy, who was acting secretary of war on that day. In a press conference, he told reporters that the [[M-?]] Bombardment Group of Negro personnel must be activated by July 1, [[1944?]] with complete crews. On Nov. [[15?, 1943?]], the first [[?]] Negro flying officers to receive wings as twin-engine pilots were sent from Tuskegee and Selfridge Fields and assigned to the B-25 Transition School at Mather Field, Cal. [[?]] IS BORN The 477th Bombardment Group was organized and stationed at Selfridge Field in Michigan, near Detroit, in February, 1944. It was placed under the command of Col. Robert Selway, who had been in command of the training of the 332nd Fighter Group formed under Col. B. O. Davis Jr. and [[?]]. Many of the problems which now exist at Godman were born at Selfridge. The most noticeable incident at Selfridge--excluding the shooting of a Negro soldier by Col. [[Colman?]], then base commander--was the officers club incident. Experience has shown that much of the [[?]] feelings engendered by every day resentment against Air Force policy [[?]] in [[?]]. CLUB INCIDENT No. 1 On this occasion three 477th officers ordered beer at the Selfridge club and were approached by a major who told them they didn't belong there. They asked if his remarks were an order, and he left in a [[huff?]]. Prior to this the club had been opened to all. Col. Davis was [[?]] a reception [[?]] when he returned from overseas. This major carried his protest to Col. Boyd, then post commander, who asked the men to [[/column 2]] [[column 3]] leave. When told of War Department Order [[210-10?]], which said that all buildings and facilities were open to all men on the post, the colonel insisted the men leave without giving an answer. SELWAY CHANGES Col. Selway came before the men of the 477th and read a letter from Col. Boyd prohibiting use of the club and said further, in my group if you want to make the team, you play ball my way. If anyone in my group [[protests?]] the decision of the post commander, I will give him an [[unsatisfactory?]] [[?-ing]]." Following an investigation from Washington, the 477th was transferred from Selfridge to Godman Field in Kentucky, where another incident arose and led to a riot on the post. The men had begun to lose confidence in Col. Selway. In the early days at Selfridge Field the men liked their commander, who was considered thoughtful of the welfare of his men. In the [[?]] he had placed Negroes in top command posts. The colonel then was always available to his men. At Godman the men saw a change in Col. Selway, which had begun [[after?]] the officers club incident at Selfridge. No longer would he [[?]] Negro officers and their capabilities [[?]] the apparent and indisputably policy at Godman was to place white officers in all command over staff positions, regardless of their lack of experience. This has been the great undercurrent [[sapping?]] the morale of men--limitation of [[promotion?]] to qualified men, accentuated by the placement of white officers with less experience and training. This was done despite orders requiring all Negro officers before the group was committed to combat. In August of last year, Col Selway disregarded completely a War Department order prohibiting segregation in Army theatres and PX's. This led to the ? when a group of 200 men had to be restrained from [["marching"]] on the post theatre. After that conditions went from bad to worse. The conviction of many of the men was that further compromise was out. They wanted the democracy they were expected to fight for, and they expected their leader Col. Selway to carry out Army regulations which granted this relief. CLUB INCIDENT No. 2 Moved to Freeman Field, Ind., considered an adequate field in training the group, the [[discrimination?]] [[?]] flared again when officers were barred from the regular post officers club and told to frequent a segregated club put up for their use. The men boycotted the club and sought admittance to the regular post officers club. They dubbed the separated club "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Then more active resistance ensued. Many of the Negro officers began going to the white officers club. They were promptly ordered out. ARREST SIXTY-ONE Col. Selway ordered the men to use the separate club but on the night of April 5 this year 61 officers went to the white club. When told they would be arrested if they insisted upon entering, they answered, "We insist." They were promptly arrested. When the officers insisted on the application of existing Army orders granting them use of the facilities, Col. Selway came forward with an order prohibiting use of the regular club to "trainee" personnel, and classified all Negroes as "trainee." White officers with the group were allowed use of the club. [[114?]] ARRESTED Each officer was called upon to read and sign the document stating that he understood the [[?-tion]]. One hundred men refused and were arrested without formal charges being prepared. By April the 477th Bombardment Group had been moved back to Godman Field where facilities are not adequate and Freeman Field has been closed. Despite these incidents, training has gone on and a fine training record has been established by the group. 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[[photo 1 - man in uniform]] [[caption 1]] LT. GEN. IRA C. BAKER Announced New Deal for 477th Bomber Group [[/caption 1]] [[photo 2 - man in uniform.]] [[caption 2]] COL. B. O. DAVIS JR. New Commander of All Negro Bomber Group [[/caption 2]] [[photo 3 - head shot of man in glasses]] [[caption 3]] TRUMAN K. GIBSON JR. Civilian Aide Accompanied Military... [[/caption 3]] [[/top center]] [[column 4]] Background Of 447th's Long Difficulties Special Correspondence WASHINGTON, D. C.-- Assumption of command of the 477th Composite Group by Col. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. will rescue this fighter bomber group from the difficulties which have been the beset the reconstituted unit since shortly after the bomber group was activated. These difficulties have centered chiefly around the question of use of officers clubs, although Army regulations [[decide?]] that no officers club of [[?]] will be permitted by a post commander to occupy [[?]] buildings on a post if any officer on duty at the post is deprived the right to full membership. EVASION ATTEMPTED Efforts to evade the regulation through the establishment of separate facilities for white and colored officers, or for instructor officers and student officers were attempted at the three fields at which the 477th Bombardment Group had been stationed. By a strange coincidence, the instructor officers have all been white and the student officers colored. SELWAY BLAMED Colonel Robert Selway Jr., a native of Wyoming and a graduate of West Point, who has commanded the group since its activation, has been blamed by the student officers for attempting to impose race segregation, first at Godman Field, Ky., then at Selfridge Field, Mich., and at Freeman Field, Ind. Dependable sources, however, doubt that he would have been [[so persistent?]] without the backing of Major General Frank [[initial?]] Hunter?, commanding general of the First Air Force, in which Godman, Selfridge, and Freeman Fields, are situated. At Freeman Field, a climax was reached on April twelfth, when 101 officers were arrested for refusing to sign a statement that they had read a [[?]] order restricting student officers to the use of a separate officers' club. That base regulation, [[made?]] [[/column 4]] [[column 5]] by Colonel Selway, covered the assignment of housing, [[?]], and recreational facilities. The next day they were flown to Godman Field. Several colored officers had attempted to enter the officers' club on the night of April 5 and 6. Sixty-one of them were arrested but liberties were restored to all of them except three, who were charged with "jostling an officer" in their attempts to enter the club. After the men's arrest on April [[12?]], the War Department entered into the situation and, as a result, the 101 officers were released and an investigation was undertaken by the War Department. Since then the War Department has refused to comment on the report which has been in its possession for several weeks. [[/column 5]] [[column 6]] 477th Is Third War Command For Col. Davis Staff Correspondence GODWAY FIELD, Ky. -- The 477th Composite Group is the third command of importance assigned to Colonel Benjamin O. Davis during World War II by the War Department. He has taken two of them into combat and is scheduled to take the third [[?]] into combat in the late fall this time in the Pacific. The [[?]] West Point graduate of 1936 earned his pilot wings at the Tuskegee Army Air Field, Alabama, in 1942. Placed in command of the 99th Fighter Squadron, he went overseas with it in April, 1943. The colonel, then a lieutenant colonel, served as commanding officer of the [[99th?]] in the North African, [[Sicilian?]], and [[?]] campaigns. SECOND COMMAND On October , 1943, Colonel Davis, a native of Washington D. C., returned to the United States and received command of the 332nd Fighter Group which was activated October [[15?]], 1943. The group trained under Colonel Davis until January [[13?]] 1944, and then went overseas and into action against the enemy as a part of the [[?]] Fighter Command of the Mediterranean Allied Air Force under Lieutenant General Ira C. Baker. Flying the sturdy [[P-40 Warhawk?]] and P-47 Thunderbolt with the [[?]] Fighter Command, the group strafed enemy shipping and low level ship-bombing at [[?]] and other [[?]] in Italy. They were later assigned to the [[12th?]] Air Force, and equipped with P-51s. The Mustang became a favorite with the pilots. COMBAT RECORD On February [[?]], [[1945?]], Colonel Davis' Group had completed [[?]] combat missions with the 12th Air Force and had served as escort to heavy bombers without losing a single bomber to enemy fighters. Up to that time, members of the 332nd Fighter Group had been awarded [[?]] Distinguished Flying Crosses and had completed [[?]] sorties while destroying more than [[200?]] enemy aircraft in aerial and ground [[?]]. Working in close cooperation with the U. S. Fifth Army and the British Eighth Army, the fighter group performed all types of missions ranging from escorting heavy bombers over the [[?]] oil fields to low level strafing raids on retreating Germans in Northern Italy, [[?]] Austria and finally over Germany and Berlin itself. Colonel Davis has been awarded the Legion of Merit, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters. He returned to the United States early this month to take command of the reconstituted 477th Bombardment Group which will be known as a composite group. Elements of the 477th will include two bomber squadrons and one fighter squadron (the 99th) from the 332nd Fighter Group. The remaining elements of the 132nd Fighter Group will be held in [[strategic reserve?]]. [[line]] Eight farmers from [[?]] and four from [[Camden?]] recently shipped [[125?]] [[lambs?]] from [[Elizabeth?]] City, [[next 3 words?]] Extension animal [[?]] at State College. [[boxed]] Aims Of Airmen In Seven Points What do the officers and men of the 477th Bombardment Group [[seek?]]? In a paper they have been summed up to seven points. 1. Freedom to advance in accordance to their abilities, without obstruction due to race. 2. Full citizenship in and out of Army. 3. Freedom from "paternalism". 4. The extension of the identical courtesies extended all other persons. 5. Relief from the onus of being "different" requiring special treatment. 6. All of the rights guaranteed all Americans by the law of the land, as well as by the rules of the armed services. 7. Respect for the "human dignity" of all men everywhere. [[/boxed]] [[/column 6]] [[column 7]] [[headline]] Group Makes Fine Record [[/headline]] By A Staff Correspondent GODMAN FIELD, Ky.--The 477th Bombardment Group stationed here is composed of members from 41 of the 48 states of the union. In this way it represents a real cross section of the Negro population of the nation. A great many of the men are college graduates and [[?]] have had post graduate work. Brothers of two of the men flew Mustangs in Italy in the thick of the battle for the defeat of the Nazis. Another interesting fact about the group is that all enlisted personnel in the group and [[80? 90?]] per cent of the pilots, navigators, and bombardiers, or officers, are colored. The outgoing commanding officer, Col. Robert R. Selway Jr. was a [[19-?]] West Point graduate. Col. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the new com- [[/column 7]] [[column 8]] mander, is also a West Pointer. This group has an exceptional safety record. In [[20,000?]] hours of flying, up to last March, they had a total of only four minor accidents, and not a single fatality. And actually they had flown [[11,000?]] hours before their first minor accident. Two weeks ago they had their first fatality. To add to this excellent record, two enlisted men some time ago broke the gunnery record at the gunnery school of Yuma, Ariz. They are [[S?]]. Sgt. Alfred Mack, Middleton, Ohio, and [[S?]]. Sgt. William [[Austin?]], of Chicago, Ill., who beat the record by [[30?]] percent. Both men were awarded silver bracelets for their performance. [[line]] [[Governor?]] [[?]] of [[States?]] has signed a bill providing [[$-?]] to [[provision?]] and equip an experimental [[Blueberry?]] and [[blackberry?]] [[growing]] at a [[?]] facility in North Carolina. [[/column 8]] ^[[notation]] Davis B006 F007 3 sh3of3 [[/notation]]
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