"A People without knowledge of their Past History,
origin and culture is like a Tree without Roots...." Marcus
Remembering, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
The military history of African Americans spans from the arrival of the first
black slaves during the colonial history of the United States to the present
day. There has been no war fought by or within the United States in which
African Americans did not participate, including the Revolutionary War, the War
of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, the
World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other minor conflicts. .
Today, we celebrate Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. (December 18, 1912 – July 4, 2002)
who was an American United States Air Force general and commander of the World
War II Tuskegee Airmen. He was the first African-American general in the United
States Air Force. On December 9, 1998, he was advanced to four-star general by
President Clinton. During World War II, Davis was commander of the 99th and the
332nd Fighter Group, which escorted bombers on air combat missions over Europe.
Davis himself flew sixty missions in P-39, Curtiss P-40, P-47 and P-51 Mustang
fighters. Davis followed in his father's footsteps in breaking racial barriers,
as Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. was the first African-American general in the United
At the time of Davis's retirement, he held the rank of lieutenant general, but
on December 9, 1998 President Bill Clinton awarded him a fourth star, raising
him to the rank of full general. His Military decorations included 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, Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf
clusters, and the Philippine Legion of Honor.
In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. on his list of
100 Greatest African Americans.