U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — As a Tuskegee Airman, Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. was a trailblazer.
Now, he will be recognized for the pioneer he was. The Air Force Academy named its airfield after him in a special ceremony Friday.
As a member of the first group of African-American aviators, Davis is one of the most renowned officers in Air Force history. He became the first African-American to rise to the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. military in 1940.
“General Davis dedicated 89 years of his life to the Air Force and to service of this country, to make America a better place,” Davis’ nephew, Doug Melville, said.
His family was at the Academy Friday as the school named the airfield in the general’s honor.
“To have the Air Force Academy, that’s been around over 60 years, take the airfield and rename it and dedicate it, thinking of all the other generals and all the other graduates and all the other people that have walked through these doors, is the greatest honor our family could have,” Melville said.
Before his career took flight, Davis was a determined young man at West Point–where no one talked to him for four years.
Upon graduation, he wasn’t permitted to fly because of the color of his skin.
“When the whole world said that blacks were unable, incapable, less than, Gen. Davis led the Tuskegee Airmen and helped change the narrative of the whole United States, integrate the Air Force, and ultimately integrate the whole United States of America,” Melville said.
Davis retired in 1970. President Bill Clinton advanced him to a four-star general in 1988.
He died 15 years ago, but his legacy will live on at the Air Force Academy.