Benjamin O. Davis Jr Selected as 2022 Paul E Garber Shrine Honoree

The Air Force Academy named its airfield in honor of Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., a Tuskegee Airman and World War II pilot, Davis, the first African American pilot to solo in an Army Air Corps aircraft, was instrumental in desegregating the Air Force and later pushed for women to be accepted into the Air Force Academy.
LIFT APRIL 2022


The First Flight Society announced on March 2nd that Benjamin O. Davis Jr., has been named the 2022 Honoree to be inducted into the Dr. Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine located in the Museum and Visitors Center at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, USA.

Davis in his junior year, applied for the Army Air Corps, but was rejected because it did not accept black pilots. After graduating West Point in 1936, he served as an infantry officer in an all-black regiment. But Davis’ aspirations to fly were realized a few years later.

This honor is selected annually by a high-level panel appointed by the First Flight Society, from among numerous nominations submitted from around the world as well as compiled lists of qualified candidates. The induction ceremony will be held on Wright Brothers Day, December 17, 2022, with a celebration banquet held on December 16, 2022, in Kitty Hawk. A portrait of Benjamin O. Davis Jr. will be unveiled and presented at the ceremony on December 17th, 2022, celebrating the 119th Anniversary of the Wright Brothers First Flight.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. was a United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen. He was the first African-American brigadier general in the USAF. Davis Jr was born December 18th, 1912 in Washington, DC. He earned a 1932 nomination to the U.S. Military Academy from Rep. Oscar S. De Priest (R-Ill.), then America’s only black congressman. He was the first African-American to be admitted to the Academy since Reconstruction.

A three-ship formation of F-86F Sabres , led by back then Colonel Davis, assigned to the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing fly over Korea in 1953. The 51st Fighter Wing, under various designations, fought in the Korean War and has provided aerial support and deterrence on the Korean Peninsula since 1971. Photo Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo – U.S. Air Force Photos

President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the Army Air Corps to create a flying organization for African-American troops. Davis Jr., the only living black West Point graduate, was ordered from Ft. Benning, Ga., to Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. Davis would see the Tuskegee Airmen swell in ranks to 1,000 and form the 99th Pursuit Squadron, later the 332d Fighter Squadron. By the end of the war Davis had flown 60 combat missions and had been promoted to colonel.

Davis also served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. He ended his career as deputy commander in chief of the U.S. Air Force. After retiring in 1970, he served as an assistant secretary at the Department of Transportation under President Richard M. Nixon. Davis died July 4th, 2002 at age 89.

William Douglas, Chairman of the First Flight Society’s National Advisory Committee, served as Chair of the Dr. Paul E. Garber Shrine Selection Panel and managed the selection process.

For more information about the Paul E Garber Shrine visit www.firstflight.org/first-flight-shrine/

Without the First Flight Society, there would not be a Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. The Kill Devil Hills Memorial Association, later named First Flight Society, began as a group of local businessmen who successfully petitioned the US Congress to fund and build a monument to the Wright Brothers’ 1903 achievement.

Standing sixty feet (18.3 meters) tall and perched atop a ninety foot (27.4 meters) stabilized sand dune known as Kill Devil Hill, this monument towers over Wright Brothers National Memorial Park in Kill Devil Hills, NC. The park commemorates and preserves the site where the Wright brothers launched the world’s first successful sustained, powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine. The inscription that wraps around the base of the monument states “In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright. Conceived by genius, achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith.” Photo taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 in Dare County, NC, USA.

The FFS plans an annual celebration at the Wright Brothers National Memorial on December 17th mandated by their bylaws to memorialize the work of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC.

They created the Paul E Garber Shrine in 1966 to honor individuals and groups for achieving significant “firsts” in aviation development since 1903. Charles Lindbergh, Tuskegee Airmen, Mary Feik, John Glenn, Katherine Johnson (Hidden Figures), and most recently astronaut Sally K. Ride among others.

First Flight Society promotes aviation education through an Aviation Education Committee to expand the knowledge of the Wright Brothers’ legacy by bringing aviation education programs to students in Dare County. They also offer an annual FFS Scholarship through Outer Banks Community Foundation for students pursuing aviation education in North Carolina.

More information about the First Flight Society can be found at https://firstflight.org



1 Comment

  1. He richly deserves the honor. One tough guy who didn’t let anything hold him back either at the Academy or in service. RIP, General.

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