As dramatized in the recent George Lucas film Red Tails, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first group of African American aviators in the United States forces. They volunteered to serve in the 1940’s when the armed forces were still segregated and the men faced racial discrimination both inside and outside the military. Despite these adversities, they flew with distinction. They originated from the historically black Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
One of these pilots, Ferrier H. White, has ties to Lynchburg.
White was born in 1921 in Eleria, Ohio to Henry Jr. and Fosterina White. He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and received pilot training in Tuskegee, Ala.
White was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation from Tuskegee Flight School on October 16, 1944.
This was the first all African American fighter group, the 332nd. The group escorted bombers during World War II, losing very few to enemy fighters. The group initially flew P-40 Warhawks, then the P-47 Thunderbolts, then to the P-61 Mustang. The group painted the top of their rudders red to distinguish themselves and are hence known as the Redtails.
On April 5, 1945 White was lost over the Adriatic Sea.
White is honored on the tablets of the Missing in Action at the Florence American Cemetery in Italy and the Oberlin, Ohio Soldiers Monument.
White’s grandparents were Henry and Maude White, who resided in Fayetteville for many years. His aunt and uncle who lived in Fayetteville were Mattie and John (Pud) Moore.
Henry White had a brother named Sam White. Sam White was the grandfather of the Daniel family (Ham, Helen, Dill and Alberta), White family (Stell, Mary Campbell and Annie Jean Reese), the Green family (Annie Belle Eady, Minnie, Green and Nellie Smith). Bull and Jack Waggoner, Sis and Bus Eady, and J.B. and L.B. McGowen are some of the great-grandchildren, to name a few that are known in Lynchburg.
There are three great-grandchildren of Sam White living in Tullahoma; Beverly Eady Vance, Barbara Eady Estill and Juanita Daniel Dunlap.