Col. Richard Toliver: Pioneering combat pilot Published Feb. 1, 2016 By Air Force Public Affairs Agency WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Retired Col. Richard Toliver graduated from Tuskegee Institute University in January 1963 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. He began his Air Force career in February 1963 as a project engineer and completed pilot training in June 1965. He was one of the first five African American F-4 Phantom II pilots to serve under the famed Tuskegee Airman Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James. Toliver was twice deployed during the Vietnam War and flew 446 missions and 860 combat hours in fighter jets. During his 26 years of service, Toliver served throughout the United States, Southeast Asia, Europe, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf. He commanded a number of units and held key staff positions in major commands of the Air Force. He was a command pilot with 4,000 flying hours in the F-4, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, OT-37 Tweet, O-2 Skymaster, T-33 Shooting Star, and several civilian aircraft. His many military decorations include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with 27 oak leaf clusters, and the Air Force Commendation Medal. For Toliver’s complete Veterans in Blue profile, click here. For information on African American History Month, click here.