Mess Attendant 2nd Class Dorie Miller had never handled a machine gun, yet he shot down four Japanese planes in twenty minutes, rescued the captain of the USS West Virginia and saved a dozen men from drowning.
Read about an African-American from the First World War...
"The government, endeavoring to meet the problem by raising the economic stature of the Negro, create committees, change regulations. The Army admits Negro candidates for officer training to the same schools as whites. It is training Negro pilots for the Air Corps. Negro officers will command Negro troops. The Navy opens new types of service for the Negro in the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, inshore establishments, Navy yards and construction crews."
A three page photo-essay found on the yellowing pages of a 1943 issue of CLICK MAGAZINE introduced American readers to the flying "Black Panthers" of the U.S. Army Air Force; a fighter squadron composed entirely of African American pilots, trained "at the new $2000,000 airfield in Tuskegee, Ala.". The four paragraphs that tell their story are accompanied by eight portraits of the pilots and snap-shots of the assorted ground crew, mechanics and orderlies - all Black.
"They undoubtedly will reach a combat area this summer. One squadron, the 99th, has arrived overseas already. [These] pilots, whose insignia is a flame-spewing black panther, are rarin' to join them. They want to roar a personal answer to the Axis 'race superiority' lies."
This article partially explains the excitement of being a Tuskegee Airman and flying the Army's most advanced fighters and partially explains what it was like to be a black man in a segregated America:
"I'm flying for every one of the 12,000,000 Negroes in the United States. I want to prove that we can take a tough job and handle it just as well as a white man."
Here are a few fast facts about the African-Americans who served in the U.S. Army during the Second World War (it should be noted that the record keeping in 1945 was not nearly as accurate as they had hoped; the number of Black servicemen and women was way off compared to what is known today. Pentagon figures today number W.W. II African-American service at 1.2 million).
Those councilors who advised FDR on all matters African-American were popularly known as "the Black Brain Trust"...
Here are two YANK MAGAZINE articles from the same issue that report on the all-black combat units that fought the Germans on two fronts in Europe: one organization fought with the Seventh Army in France and Germany, the other fought with the Fifth Army through Italy:
"Hitler would have a hemorrhage if he could see the white boys of the 411th Infantry bull-sessioning, going out on mixed patrols, sleeping in the same bombed buildings, sweating out the same chow lines with the Negro GIs."
Click here to read about the African-American efforts during the First World War.