|Tuskegee Airmen Visit USS Hornet|
Published: Friday, 23 March 2012 01:47
Captain Les Williams signed a Tuskegee Airmen poster at an event last Saturday aboard the USS Hornet. The event honored the black fighter pilots of the U.S. Army Air Corps who trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Ala. Williams is only one of a few original Tuskegee Airmen. While he was training, the Department of War expanded the Tuskegee Airmen's role from just flying fighter planes to flying bombers.
A San Francisco native, Williams was one of nine in the first class of black bomber pilots commissioned by the U.S. Air Corps. He wrote a book about his experiences called Victory: Tales of a Tuskegee Airman. Williams was one of some 996 African American pilots who trained in Tuskegee from 1941 to 1946. The Army deployed some 445 of these men overseas, and 150 airmen lost their lives in accidents or combat.
Williams, who lives in Belmont, was among five airmen honored aboard the Hornet; also present were Sergeant Clyde Grimes and Lieutenant Burl Smith, both from Oakland; Lieutenant Lee Roy Gillead from San Francisco and Lieutenant Colonel Harold Hoskins from Danville.