1990's -- Daniel James Jr., was the first African-American promoted to the rank of Air Force four-star general. He was another of the great Tuskegee Airmen, but didn't see action until the Korean War. His career spanned three wars and 30 years, and he was a recognized civil rights pioneer. He was an eloquent speaker for the Air Force known for his thoughts on Americanism and patriotism.
Daniel James Jr., was the first African-American promoted to the rank of Air Force four-star general. He was another of the great Tuskegee Airmen, but didn't see action until the Korean War. His career spanned three wars and 30 years, and he was a recognized civil rights pioneer. He was an eloquent speaker for the Air Force known for his thoughts on Americanism and patriotism.
James was born in February 1920, in Pensacola, Fla., where he graduated from Washington High School in June 1937. He attended Tuskegee Institute at Tuskegee, Ala., where he received a bachelor of science degree in physical education and completed civilian pilot training under the government-sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program.
He remained at Tuskegee as a civilian instructor pilot in the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program until January 1943, when he entered the program as a cadet and received his commission as second lieutenant in July 1943. Throughout the remainder of World War II he trained pilots for the all-African-American 99th Pursuit Squadron and worked in other assignments.
In September 1949 James went to the Philippines and was assigned to the 18th Fighter Wing, at Clark Field. In July 1950 he went to Korea where he flew 101 combat missions in F-51 and F-80 Shooting Star aircraft during the Korean War.
James returned to the United States and in July 1951 went to Otis Air Force Base, Mass., where he was assigned as an all-weather jet fighter pilot, and later as the squadron commander.
After assignments in England and Arizona, James went to Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in December 1966. He flew 78 combat missions into North Vietnam, many in the Hanoi/Haiphong area, and led a flight in the Bolo MiG sweep in which seven Communist MiG-21s were destroyed, the highest total kill of any mission during the Vietnam War.
He was named vice commander of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in December 1967. While stationed at Eglin AFB, the Florida State Jaycees named him as Florida's Outstanding American of the Year for 1969; and he received the Jaycee Distinguished Service Award. He was transferred to Wheelus Air Base in the Libyan Arab Republic, in August 1969, as commander of the 7272nd Fighter Training Wing.
General James became Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) on March 31, 1970, and was designated Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) on April 20, 1973.
General James was promoted to four-star grade and assigned as commander in chief, NORAD/ADCOM, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Sept. 1, 1975. In these dual capacities, he had operational command of all United States and Canadian strategic aerospace defense forces. His last position was special assistant to the Air Force chief of staff.
He was awarded the George Washington Freedom Foundation Medal in 1967 and again in 1968. He received the Arnold Air Society Eugene M. Zuckert Award, in 1970, for outstanding contributions to Air Force professionalism. His citation read "...fighter pilot with a magnificent record, public speaker, and eloquent spokesman for the American Dream we so rarely achieve."
James retired from active service on Feb. 1, 1978 and died later that month on Feb 25.
Sources compiled from Air Force News Agency and Air Force History Support Office.