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Col. Edward Ivory Johnson

Synopsis : VICTUS VINCIMUS is a military action, science fiction drama depicting the emotional horrors of war, the anguish of separation.

Meet “Edward Johnson” an intelligent young man drafted as one of the Tuskegee Red Tail Air Fighters for WWII.

Edward Ivory Johnson from Natural Records Studios on Vimeo.

[su_heading size=”15″]Preface: The Beginnings of the Tuskegee Airmen[/su_heading]

In the 1940’s, the United States Armed force, thus significantly of the country, was set apart. The supposed Jim Crow Laws maintained blacks from entering public places such as libraries, eating establishments and also theater. African Americans served in the armed forces; they were limited in the types of placements as well as tasks they could hold.

Tuskeegee airman

On April 3, 1939, President Roosevelt approved Public Law 18, that offered a growth of the Military Air Corps. One section of the legislation provided expect those African Americans who wished to advance their military professions beyond the motor or the kitchen pool. It called for the creation of training systems located at black college and universities that would certainly prepare blacks for service in a variety of areas in the Air Corps assistance services.

On January 16th, 1941, the War Department revealed the creation of the 99th Pursuit Squadron. This undertaking was to be an all-black flying system trained at the Tuskegee Principle founded in Tuskegee, Alabama, by Booker T. Washington in 1881. Charles A. Anderson, a self-taught African American aviator, had set up a noncombatant pilot training program at the Institute in 1939.

Generally there were no African American officers, eleven white officers were assigned to train and prepare a total of 429 enlisted men and 47 officers who would undoubtedly become the Tuskegee Airmen, the very first black military staffs in the flying school. From 1941 to 1946 over 2,000 African Americans completed training at the Tuskegee Institute, nearly three-quarters of them qualified as pilots.

The rest went on to emerge as navigators or support employees. During the war the 99th Pursuit Squadron, which in turn was later renamed the 99th Fighter Squadron, soared in the skies over the Mediterranean and Europe.

The 99th Fighter Squadron had the distinguished record of never losing a bomber to enemy fighters. To shooting down assault enemy aircraft, they also shot down the belief that African Americans were not suited for responsible military service. In 1948, President Truman ordered the desegregation of the United States Military.


“1942 War Bond poster featuring an African American pilot. FDR Library Museum Object: MO 2005.”

Eleanor Roosevelt rides with pilot Charles Alfred Anderson

Eleanor Roosevelt rides with pilot Charles Alfred Anderson

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was very fascinated in the work at the Tuskegee Institute, particularly in the aerial school. Throughout a highly promoted 1941 visit to the Tuskegee Army Air Field, she asked to take flight with one of the Tuskegee aviators.

Although the Secret Service was anxious regarding the ride, Chief Civilian Flight Instructor Charles Alfred Anderson, known today as “The Father of Black Aviation,” piloted Mrs. Roosevelt over the skies of Alabama for more than an hour.

Flying with Anderson demonstrated the depth of Eleanor Roosevelt’s support for black pilots and the Institute’s instruction program. Press coverage of her adventure in flight helped advocate for the competency of these pilots and boosted the Institute’s visibility. Roosevelt was so pleased with the training program that she developed and preserved a long-term correspondence together with some of the airmen.

“Charles Alfred Anderson momentos – Soon after Roosevelt’s landmark Tuskegee flight, her pilot, Charles Alfred Anderson, sent her a few momentos and a keepsake program from the “Inaugural Ceremony Launching the Instruction of Negroes as Military Aviators for the United States Army Air Corps.” Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, FDR Library.”


“F.D. Patterson correspondences – Both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were in contact with the President of the Tuskegee Institute, F.D. Patterson. The letters from Mr. Patterson highlight that Mrs. Roosevelt’s encouragement of Tuskegee was a key component in the success of its programs throughout that time period. President’s Official File and the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, FDR Library.”

“Cecil Peterson correspondences – This packet of files includes exchange of letters between Eleanor Roosevelt and Cecil Peterson, a pupil at the Tuskegee Air Corps Advanced Flying School. Mrs. Roosevelt launched the correspondence due to the fact that she was interested in hearing the direct experiences of life at Tuskegee, and she and Mr. Peterson carried on their letters throughout the war. Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, FDR Library.”

“Eleanor Roosevelt had met with Cecil Peterson before he became a Tuskegee Airman. Below Roosevelt accepts a plaque offered by Peterson, then speaking for the Student Government at an NYA-supported program at Quoddy Village, Maine, July, 1941. Peterson wrote on the front of this print: “Remember this occasion? 21 July 41 Quoddy Village.” FDR Library Photo: NPx 79-258.”


Online Resources

FDR Library Curriculum Guide – Red Tailed Angels: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen (includes additonal archival documents) 
National Archives – Tuskegee Airmen photographs in the Online Public Access (OPA) Catalog
National Archives – Pictures of African Americans during WWII
US Air Force – Tuskegee Airmen (online exhibit)
University of California Riverside – Tuskegee Airmen Archive 

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