Remembering Some Key Elements of U.S. Military History (#1)

Few may remember the name Charles A. “Chief” Anderson.  Charles Anderson became the legendary first civilian flight instructor of the famed World War II Tuskegee Airman. With restrictions on flight training for Black Americans back then, Anderson worked around that by teaching himself to fly.  He would go on to earn his pilot’s license in 1929, then receiving a commercial pilot certification in 1932.  He then flew commercially until the concern of the overseas war impacting America became a reality. “Chief” Anderson became the lead flight instructor at Tuskegee University (primary training site), with about 1,000 young Black males learning to fly during his wartime tenure and supervision there. With the American military segregated throughout World War II, these “dedicated and determined” young pilots became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.  They became distinguished pilots during both wartime aerial combat and escort assignments.

When tasked specifically to bomber escort missions, flying out of airfields in Italy, the Tuskegee pilots set a high standard for American bomber protection.  With 179 total escort missions flown, specially assigned to protect our bombers, on just 7 of those missions were U.S. bombers lost, compared to the reported 46 missions with bomber loses, flown by U.S. 15th Air Force’s all-White P-51 squadrons. The protection capability difference was so impressive that our bomber crews would campaign to have the Tuskegee “Red Tails,” (distinctive red paint adorned their aircraft tail sections), fly combat cover for them.  Recalling thoughts from Tuskegee Airman Coleman Young (later to become the first Black American mayor of Detroit): “They made the standards so high, we actually became an elite group. We were screened and super-screened. We were unquestionably the brightest and most physically fit young Blacks in the country. We were super-better because of the irrational laws of Jim Crow.”

Flying out of Italy, Tuskegee pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group once “set a record for destroying five enemy aircraft in under four-minutes,” while, later, Tuskegee P-51 pilots “shot down three German Me 262’s (the world’s first combat jets!) in a single day.” The flying men of Tuskegee would go on to win 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses, as a result of their individual combat skills, courage, and bravery.  The Tuskegee Airmen, composed of the four squadrons of the 332 Fighter Group, flying air combat and bomber support missions, were America’s first all-Black military airmen, performing superbly overall throughout the remaining years of World War II.  And, going back to the beginning, self-taught Black pilot, Charles “Chief” Anderson deserves primary credit for initially establishing and training the early waves of dedicated, courageous, and honored-in-combat Tuskegee Airmen, piloting the distinguished squadrons oft-praised by Americans, and ever-feared by Germans, the latter who reportedly would sometimes avoid, rather than engage with, the renowned American “Red Tails.”

This past December 7th marked the 82nd anniversary of the devastating Japanese attack on America’s naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  And devastating it was, with our harbored and neatly lined-up 8 battleships in “Battleship Row” (all damaged or sunk), along with several cruisers and destroyers.  Meanwhile, at nearby Wheeler Field, strafing Japanese fighters destroyed 188 U.S. aircraft and damaged another 159.  The human death toll at the combined Pearl Harbor facilities (Navy + Army Air) was significant as well, with over 2,400 American military personnel killed, with the vast majority being Navy members, along with over 200 Army personnel killed, along with a reported 68 civilian deaths.  The only saving grace was that America’s three aircraft carriers were spared, since luckily, at the time of the one-hour surprise attack from the air, all three were out in the Pacific “on maneuvers.” This first enemy attack on American soil, with its extremely high cost in ships, aircraft, and personnel, brought America’s prior desire to remain out of the fight to an immediate end.  By the following morning, appearing before an emergency joint-session of Congress, President Roosevelt was compelled to declare war on Japan as well as the same, inevitably, on Germany, Italy, and remaining hostile nations.

It would be another 60-years before our homeland would again be attacked (9-11-2001). This time by Middle Eastern enemy agents, when they suddenly took control of two regularly-scheduled, civilian-carrying commercial airliners in the air and purposely flew them into the upper floors of both towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing those civilians in-flight, along with over two thousand civilians at work within the towers, and over 300 responding fire personnel, when those tall towers inevitably collapsed, tragically exceeding the total military and civilian deaths that resulted from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  As for a future attack on America’s homeland, regrettably such is likely, given the ease of entry through our purposeful, law-ignoring open southern border by, once again, enemy agents no doubt intent on imposing one or more destructive, terroristic acts upon our nation, with unknown property destroyed and American lives lost. We should never allow ourselves to forget the Pearl Harbor attack and its resulting carnage, along with forcing us to enter World War II, thereby joining with most of the civilization-preserving nations in a four-year world-wide battle, at enormous cost (financial and human) to regain lost freedom for many nations, while preserving it for the remaining.

Now, if you’ve ever wondered where the regular Daylight-Saving-Time concept came from. Well, here’s your answer: World War I.  Then, later when World War II began, by an Act of Congress, year-around Daylight-Saving-Time was established nation-wide on February 9, 1942, just a bit over two months after America’s official entry into that massive world conflict, and expanded throughout the year for two primary purposes: (1) national security and defense, and (2) to conserve energy (which sounds like today, except for a far less compelling, purely political, reason). “American time zones were renamed Western War Time, Pacific War Time, etc., across all five time zones in the United States and its territories at the time.” The British took wartime time management a confusing step further. “It moved clocks ahead two hours, calling it British Double-Summer-Time.  Meaning, among other impacts, that “British paratroopers who spearheaded the D-Day Invasion of Normandy on Jume 6, 1944, departed England in daylight at around 11 P.M. on the night of June 5.”  That war time designation (regular & double) remained until after the Japanese surrender (September 1945).  The first time- zones were actually established in the U.S. by the railroads in 1883, due to the “chaotic system” they faced when communities along the way sometimes established their own time systems!  Today, “while (regular) daylight saving time is a federal mandate, states can opt out of it by passing a state law.  Hawaii and Arizona don’t observe it.” And “government officials around the world today now appear to feel empowered to bend time to their will.”  For now, at least, we here have apparently avoided “time” adjustments ordered by federal administrative whim.

Here’s yet another reason to remember July 4th America’s historic Independence Day.  It was on that date back in 1802 when the United States Military Academy at West Point first opened.  It was the Revolutionary War “that brought attention to the ongoing need for American youth to be developed and trained to be military leaders.”  West Point originally opened “as a training school for military engineers.”  Today, offering a greatly expanded program of reportedly 37 academic majors to a highly competitive and select total enrollment of about 4,000 cadets. “Since its founding over two centuries ago, the military academy has accomplished its mission by developing cadets in four critical areas: intellectual, physical, military, and moral-ethical, a four-year process called the “West Point Experience,” per the academy’s website. All of the graduating academy cadets earn a Bachelor of Science degree “which is designed specifically to meet the intellectual requirements of a commissioned officer in today’s Army.” Concluding this snapshot of the Army’s well known and respected officer training academy, the West Point motto is: “Duty, Honor, Country.”

A final note: With the seemingly expanding concern and disconnect among much of the American population, over these past couple of years, especially, it might well be appropriate for those three powerful West Point words (i.e., loyalty concepts) to guide the thoughts and actions of the greater American public, perhaps our younger civilians in particular.


(Fact Sources:  The American who taught the Tuskegee Airmen to fly,, Kerry J. Byme, 2-9-24; “Tuskegee Airmen” via Wikipedia; Tuskegee Airmen Facts,; “Remember Pearl Harbor” via, Virginia Kruta, 12-7-23; Feds enacted year-around Daylight Saving Time at the start of World War II via, Kerry J. Byme, 2-9-24; The founding of the U.S. Army’s military academy at West Point via, Brittany Kasko, 7-4-23).