HomeNewsArticle Display

Olympian becomes weather officer during World War II

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Sylvia Saab)

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Sylvia Saab)

Archie Williams at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin

Archie Williams at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin

Archie Williams went on to become a weather officer in the Air Force

Archie Williams went on to become a weather officer in the Air Force

Lt. Col. Archie Williams

Lt. Col. Archie Williams

Archie Williams goes over weather conditions before a flight

Archie Williams goes over weather conditions before a flight

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- Archie Williams, 1936 Olympic Gold Medal winner was later Archie Williams, Air Force weather officer and pilot. With a need for thousands of weather officers in the expanding Army Air Forces in World War II, a Meteorology Aviation Cadet program trained more than 5,600 weather officers by the last graduating class in mid-1944.

This program took only the best and brightest young men and, in nine months, provided nearly the equivalent of a graduate degree in meteorology. While the pressure to perform was intense, one 1943 cadet had already succeeded in the demands of appearing on the world stage.

Archie F. Williams was one of the legendary African-American track stars whose decisive victories at the 1936 Berlin Olympics publicly demolished Hitler's propaganda of Aryan supremacy.

Growing up in Oakland, Calif., he initially started college at San Mateo Community College, south of San Francisco. After one year, in the fall of 1935, he transferred to the University of California at Berkeley for the mechanical engineering program.

Coming under the tutelage of Cal's legendary track coach, Brutus Hamilton, he gained notice in the spring of 1936 at the Long Beach Relays and Pacific Coast Conference track championship. He then went to the NCAA track meet in Chicago and earned an invitation to the Olympic trials after setting an NCAA record of 46.1 seconds in the 400 meter sprint.

Winning at the Olympic finals in New York City, he traveled to Germany with Jesse Owens and the rest of the Olympic track team where he earned his gold medal in the 400 meter dash. Archie's track career was cut short in 1937 after tearing a hamstring muscle.

An early aviation enthusiast, he completed the Civilian Pilot Training program after graduating from Berkeley in 1939.

He was one of 91 African-Americans to earn their private pilot license in CPT's first year. He worked for an airport flying service at Oakland Airport, Calif., building up his flying time and earning a flight instructor license.

In August 1941, Capt. Williams moved to Tuskegee, Ala., and worked as a civilian flight instructor for the Tuskegee Army Flying School, teaching both CPT students and some of the first Tuskegee pilot candidates. Not eligible for military flight training, but having earned an engineering degree, he was offered the Meteorology Aviation Cadet program. He graduated from the UCLA program and was commissioned on Sept. 6, 1943.

Returning to Tuskegee, virtually the only base available for black AAF officers at that time, now 2nd Lieutenant Williams first worked in the base weather station as a forecaster and briefing officer. He was able to get into a flying instructor course in September 1944 and was one of the first four Tuskegee-trained service pilots. He then transferred to the Basic Flight Instruction course and taught both instrument flying and weather classes to cadets at Tuskegee.

Archie Williams remained in Air Weather Service the rest of his career, as weather officers who were also rated pilots were almost always in short supply. As a forecaster with the 20th Weather Squadron in Japan during the Korean War, he managed to log four B-29 combat missions over North Korea.

He retired at March AFB, Calif., on May 31, 1964 as a lieutenant colonel and command pilot. Before retiring, he completed his teaching certification. After teaching for one year in Riverside, he moved to Marin County, California, where he taught math and physical science at Sir Francis Drake High School for 20 years.

Lt. Col. Archie F. Williams died June 23, 1993, leaving his widow, Vesta Williams and two sons, Carlos and Archie, Jr.

Engage

Twitter
The Department of the Air Force will soon conduct focus groups with Total Force Airmen and Space Professionals abou… https://t.co/uPAlbUEYxt
Twitter
RT @AFGlobalStrike: For 50+ years, #MinutemanIII #ICBM fleet has underpinned our strategic force & played critical role in ensuring protect…
Twitter
RT @RealAFOSI: Between Oct. 20 and 21, 2020, Iranian threat actors conducted an information operations campaign by sending emails, masquera…
Twitter
Ready day or night The 8th Fighter Wing at @KunsanAirBase stands ready to conduct counter-air, air interdiction,… https://t.co/8FzXyQPwFo
Twitter
RT @SpaceForceDoD: Vice Chief of Space Operations tests positive for COVID-19 https://t.co/El9DBFkpAg
Twitter
Global reach Approximately 200 Airmen and four B-1B Lancer aircraft with the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron from… https://t.co/XdxCzteeGx
Twitter
Small business partnerships 🤝 @AFWERX is recommending more than 250 proposals as part of its X20D Small Business… https://t.co/vzVcj7Idfc
Twitter
Rapid strategic delivery 📦 The 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, deployed with @USAFCENT, is responsible for… https://t.co/WxSke8iXnG
Twitter
Fulfilling mission-critical requirements The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently granted the #USAF a patent… https://t.co/wtf5K6NITn
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Looking forward to this dialogue today with Dr. Austin.
Twitter
Accelerating change Airmen from the 366th Fighter Wing and 389th Fighter Squadron participate in Agile Flag 21-1 a… https://t.co/07r8CmEgl9
Twitter
Rolling out new tech The Air Force Civil Engineer Center made its first delivery of a new medium-size explosive or… https://t.co/Gj0PUVeQ6S
Twitter
#InnovativeAF @NASA representatives presented new medical diagnostic technology, the E-Nose Breathalyzer, which wi… https://t.co/mUzpASXPGm
Twitter
Pitstop ⛽️ A C-17 Globemaster pilot checks the alignment of a KC-135 Stratotankers aerial refueling boom. The flyi… https://t.co/ovgj9rh3uV
Twitter
The 23rd Security Forces Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, will be the first to receive the new system.… https://t.co/UsQNUTdoNE
Twitter
New EOD robots are coming 🤖 Over the next 16-18 months, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center will deliver 333 high… https://t.co/wCmAo5GzDm
Twitter
RT @WILLROP3R: (3 of 3) What commercial #deeptech project should @usairforce and @SpaceForceDoD start next? What else should we consider? 🤔…
Twitter
RT @WILLROP3R: (2 of 3) What commercial #deeptech project should @usairforce and @SpaceForceDoD start next? What else should we consider?…
Twitter
RT @WILLROP3R: (1 of 3) @usairforce is investing $100M with tech startups to make flying cars real. Today's AMA discussed what commercial #…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,298,485
Follow Us