Benjamin Davis graduated near the top of the class of 1936 at the United States Military Academy despite having endured four years of silence from fellow cadets who wanted him to leave. Denied entry into the Army Air Corps because of his race, he persisted until he was finally accepted into flight school in 1941. Davis received his wings shortly after the outbreak of World War II and was assigned to form and train the all-black 99th Pursuit Squadron, composed of students from Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute who came to be known as the Tuskegee Airmen. After serving with distinction throughout the war, Davis went on to become the Air Force’s first black general in 1954, and retired in 1970 with the rank of lieutenant general. Later, working with the U.S. Department of Transportation, he developed the complex airport security systems that safeguard American aircraft and aviation facilities. During his career, Davis demonstrated courage, integrity and perseverance to overcome discrimination and to reach the very highest levels of his profession.
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