Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
San Diego, CA.
Editor: Oscar D. Teel President: George E. Watson March 2011
Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
Herbert L. Blackman, Jr
It is with deep re-
gret that we report
the passing of one of
the Chapter’s hard-
est working mem-
bers. Herb passed
away on January 23.
Herb was born in At-
lantic City, New Jer-
sey and spent his
early years there and
in Lexington, Ky.
Herb received a
from Howard University and a Master’s Degree
from Purdue University. He retired from the Air
Force after a career in Civil Engineering. He is
survived by his wife of 58 years, Lolitta, who is
also a Chapter member. Herb took care of all of
our equipment, books, posters, furniture etc.,
and many, many times he hauled our equipment
to street fairs and retrieved them to put them
back in storage. He was on the Scholarship
Committee and always wanted the best for our
youth. Herb also held the office of Correspond-
ing Secretary. Herb often accompanied Chap-
ter speakers to events to give them support.. At
our major events He took care of all of the fa-
cilities and interfacing with the proper authorities
for buses to bring the children. You seldom
knew he was there because he remained in the
Herb was never an angry man; he always
smiled, he spoke softly. He was a joy to work
with. He exhibited these traits always and we,
should try to emulate him.
We offer our sincere condolences to the
THE PRESIDENT’S COLUMN
Here we are well
into a new year
and it looks like it’s
going to be another
busy one. In 2010
we lost two of our
Bob Maxwell and
and a former chap-
ter member, John
Smith. Let us continue our prayers for their
families as they forge ahead without their loved
ones. You read about Bob in our previous
newsletter and you’ll read more about Herb in
this one. John Smith was a military veteran’s
man. If a veteran was involved, John was in-
volved and doing all he could to help.
In December, we had election/reelection of offi-
cers. Thank you for re-electing me as your
president. Jeff Woodson will remain as our VP,
Arlys Erickson as Treasurer, and Bill McNeil as
Recording secretary. Congratulations to
Paulette Mello as our corresponding secretary.
More about Paulette later. Also, at our end of
the year meeting we emphasized the impor-
tance of our youth program and activities. Mary
Snear-McNeil will be our chair person. It’s look-
ing real good as Mary Snear-McNeil, Arlys
Erickson and Paulette Mello are doing a fantas-
tic job organizing an event for late April.
Paulette Mello: What can we say about her?
Perhaps not enough. She, along with her fam-
ily, Joe and Cheyenne (Cheyenne, a youth
The President’s Message continues on page 4
Page 2 By Request
The following correspondence was received from Zellie Rainey Orr. It is a very important piece of
history and you should consider it when giving presentations about the Tuskegee Airmen. It is a tes-
timony to the character of the Tuskegee Airmen that even in times of extreme stress, they were able
to practice civility and be excellent hosts. Ed.
TODAY IN TUSKEGEE AIRMEN HISTORY: By Zellie Rainey Orr
December 29, 1944, the weather was notorious and unyielding. Encountering zero visibility, some
eighteen B-24 bomber crews were returning from a mission, flying in the wrong direction. Running
low on fuel and headed towards the Adriatic, they were in imminent danger. However, the alert re-
sponse by the on-duty control tower operator at Ramitelli, in recognizing the sound of the engines.
...aided in effecting a safe landing.
In juggling a forced landing of the big "heavies" (bombers) at Ramitelli on its short airstrip built for
fighters. ..and the "red-tail" (fighter) pilots returning from their mission...the lives of some 180 bomb
crewmen were saved. The unrelenting weather stranded the white visitors for several days at the
Negro base, forging a historical milestone--blacks and whites. ..living, eating, and sleeping together.
My research would divulge, seventeen of the eighteen bomb crews were from the 485th Bombard-
ment Group (and one from the 455th). Thus, I would begin filling in the missing pieces via my con-
tact with Jerry Whiting and Dan Haulman. Jerry is the Historian of the 485th BG, and son of Wayne
Whiting, a tail gunner with the 485th that was temporarily "housed" at Ramitelli. Dan is Chief of the
Organizational History Division (Air Force Historical Research Agency) at Maxwell.
Prior to the departure of the B-24's, the 332nd Fighter Group Public Relations Officer, Eugene
Weaver, placed a letter in each plane. Below is a copy of that letter (from Jerry). Also, a copy of the
Letter of Appreciation from the Commanding Officer of the 485t BG, Col. Jack Tomhave, to the
366th Air Service Squadron of the 332nd FG (from Dan)
TO THE VISITING PILOTS AND CREWS:
YOU HAVE BEEN THE GUESTS OF THE 332ND ALL NEGRO FLIGHTER GROUP. WE HOPE
THAT OUR FACILITIES, SUCH AS THEY ARE, WERE SUITABLE AND ADEQUATE ENOUGH TO
HAVE MADE YOUR STAY HERE A PLEASANT ONE. ON BEHALF OF COLONEL DAVIS AND
THE COMMAND, I EXTEND TO YOU OUR MOST HEARTY WISHES FOR A HAPPY NEW YEAR
AND MANY HAPPIER LANDINGS. YOU ARE WELCOME TO RETURN HERE AT ANY TIME AND I
AM SURE THAT WE CAN MAKE YOUR STAY AN ENJOYABLE ONE. THE PILOTS OF THIS
COMMAND HAVE EXPRESSED THEIR DESIRES TO HAVE IT MADE CLEAR THAT IT IS A
PLEASURE TO BE ABLE TO PROTECT YOU AND LOOK AFTER YOUR WELL-BEING BOTH IN
THE AIR AND HERE ON THE GROUND. REMEMBER, WHEN YOU ARE UP THERE AND SEE
THE RED TAILED MUSTANGS IN THE SKY, THEY ARE YOUR FRIENDS OF THE 332ND
FIGHTER GROUP. HERE IS HOPING FOR A QUICK ENDING OF THE WAR AND A BETTER
AND MORE PEACEFUL WORLD.
MANY HAPPY LANDINGS,
/s/ Eugene D. Weaver
EUGENE D. WEAVER
Capt., Air Corps,
Public Relations O.
By Request Page 3
485th Bombardment Group (H)
APO 529 US ARMY
6 January 1945
Major E. Jones, Jr.
366th Air Service Squadron
APO 520, US Army
Dear Major Jones,
On behalf of the Officers and Enlisted Men of 485th Bombardment Group, I want to personally thank
you for the courtesy and assistance which you and the personnel of the 366th Air Service Squadron
so splendidly offered to our crews which landed at your base on 29 December 1944. I fully realize
what an inconvenience this forced landing must have made on your facilities, and the remarkable
manner in which you people of the 15th Fighter Command rose to the situation is all the more com-
The very able assistance which your Service Squadron has given to the 332nd Fighter Group is well
known, and now you have proven yourselves just as capable in servicing our heavy bombers.
/s/Jack P. Tomhave
JACK P. TOMHAVE
Colonel, Air Corps
DO YOU REMEMBER
...when The City of Lancaster, Cali-
fornia, honored the Tuskegee Airmen?
A number of the
and San Diego
bers were in at-
President Column, continued from Page 1
chapter member) were very instrumental in get-
ting us a space and setting up a booth at North
Island for the Centennial of Naval Aviation.
Thanks guys! Also, thanks to the Rowe family
(Claude our Documented Original Tuskegee Air-
man who attended) and the McNeil’s for braving
the traffic. Me? I didn’t have a traffic problem
because I was in the air flying in the T-34 forma-
tion…really exciting. Never thought I’d being do-
ing that. Again, a big thank you to everyone.
Welcome to our new members, Mrs Winnie
Rowe, Dorothy Rowe, Mrs. Hilda Teel, Mrs. Mary
Snear-McNeil, and youth member, Cheyene
We had an exciting weekend in Palms Springs on
the 18th and 19th of March—T34 Fly-in at the
Palms Springs Air Museum. Oscar Teel came by
and was my GIB (guy in the backseat) for one
flight on Saturday. We had fun…didn’t we
Oscar? But man it was windy (bumpy ride). I
very briefly checked my rear view mirror and
Oscar appeared to be enjoying it. Me? I wanted
to get out.
I’ll have an auto biography in the next newsletter
for the whole world to see. May we always have
a tail wind and keep the shiny side up.
Page 4 By Request
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
They never lost a bomber chronicle -
Below is the statement recommended by the
TAI Harry A. Sheppard Research Committee,
and agreed upon by the Board of Directors, as
the best way to end the controversy.
Your National Board is recommending that TAI
Chapter Presidents inform their members ac-
cordingly and adhere to below language or the
essence of the statements contained therein.
"The results of the extensive research investiga-
tions by several independent investigators in
reviewing the records of the 332nd Fighter
Group and all other fighter groups of 15th Air
Force, 15th AF Bomber Wings and Groups and
Missing Air Crew (MAC) Reports at the Air
Force Historical Research Agency and t