Walterboro in Colleton County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
The Tuskegee Airmen
In April of 1944, Walterboro Army Airfield stopped training fighter groups and switched to advanced individual air combat training. Over 500 black airmen from the training program at Tuskegee trained at the airfield between 1944 and October 1945.
Class 44-F shortly before their transfer to Walterboro Army Air Field. Tuskegee Army Air Field June 1944. Photograph courtesy of Hiram Mann
(Middle left picture): After transfer from Tuskegee Army Air Field to Walterboro Army Air Field, black airmen trained as replacement pilots for the all-black 332nd Fighter Group. Original transfer orders, Class 44-F from Tuskegee to Walterboro, 1944. Document courtesy of Hiram Mann
"Colored Soldiers Recreational Center..."
With the support of the black community, a USO was approved for black pilots on Gruber St., less than a mile from the airfield, in 1944. The Press and Standard. 1945.
(Upper right pictures):
Life on Base
"...we boarded a fleet of six by six trucks and were driven to some old ramshackle one-story barracks that looked to be vintage 1914. Next day... the base commander called a meeting to "welcome" us to Walterboro Army Airfield." -Charles Dryden, A-Train. Black airmen were
" we boycotted the [base] theater." - Charles Dryden, A-Train
(Lower left two pictures):
"So many men came to Walterboro as junior pilots and left about four months later to go overseas as well-trained fighter pilots..."
"During their relatively short stay at Walterboro the trainees logged an average of sixty hours in various types of training, including: transition into the fighter aircraft to learn how to make safe takeoffs and landings, formation flying, instrument and night flying, aerial and ground gunnery, aerobatics, and combat tactics." - Charles Dryden, A-Train
(Lower left newspaper clipping):
"Colored Pilot Was Killed in Crash..."
"We could see the tell-tale plume of black smoke rising swiftly into the beautiful, sun-drenched sky. We searched the sky for a familiar parachute canopy - but it was nowhere to be seen."
Bill Wheeler, "Shaking the Jug" 1996. Four black pilots died during training at Walterboro Army Airfield including Richard Bell, Cornelius Dowling, Willis Moore and Lloyd Carter. The Press and Standard. 1944.
(Three middle right
"...five of us were being returned to the United States [from Italy]. There we could help ... teach the TAAF [Tuskegee Army Airfield] graduates what we had learned in combat and then return overseas with the group." - Charles Dryden, A-Train. Black instructors at WAAF including veteran 99th Fighter Squadron members Charles Dryden, Spann Watson, Bill Campbell, Bud Clark, Peepsight Smith and Charles DeBow. They shared their duties with white instructors who included local resident and architect John Trulock. Photographs courtesy of Hiram Mann.
"I was assigned to the Jug (P-47 Thunderbolt) at Walterboro Army Air Base, where I took advanced combat training. I ... sought out the Vought-Corsairs flown by the Marines stationed at Parris Island. They could out-turn me - but I could outmaneuver THEM. That's where I really learned combat tactics!" - Bill Wheller, "Shaking the Jug" 1996. Black pilots at Walterboro also trained on P-39 Airacobra, the P-40 Kittyhawk and the P-47 Thunderbolt or "Jug".Photographs courtesy of Hiram Mann.
(Lower right newspaper clipping and picture)
"Order Opens Base Clubs..."
In 1945 race relations off base began to heat up. Spann Watson was involved in a fracas with the mayor of Walterboro that nearly turned into a riot. A national order that restricted bases from having
"The best training fighter pilots ever got, they got at Walterboro. We put aside the race battles and put out good pilots. We had some of the most sincere people. I didn't see any sloughing off in training black people for combat." - Spann Watson, Red Tails, Black Wings
A Special Thanks to:
Hiram E. Man (sic) Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
Mr. Johnnie Thompson, President
Walterboro-Colleton County Airport Commission
Clemson University Extension Service
SC National Heritage Center
Colleton County School District, Forest Circle Middle School, Mrs. Finsch's 8th Grade History Class (2004-2005)
Research: Elizabeth Laney
Location. 32° 54.993′ N, 80° 38.265′ W. Marker is in Walterboro, South Carolina, in Colleton County. Marker is on Aviation Way near Lt. Col. Hiram Mann Driveway, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. In the Airport Park off Rt US 17A, at the Walterboro
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Tuskegee Airman of World War II (here, next to this marker); Walterboro Army Airfield (a few steps from this marker); Walterboro Army Air Field (a few steps from this marker); Prisoner Of War Camp and Camouflage School (a few steps from this marker); The Beacon (a few steps from this marker); Anderson Field / Walterboro Army Air Field (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Walterboro Army Airfield (within shouting distance of this marker); Bethel Presbyterian Church (approx. 1.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Walterboro.
Categories. • African Americans • Air & Space • War, World II •
Credits. This page was last revised on November 12, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 21, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 2,199 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on September 21, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. 7. submitted on September 24, 2012, by Jerry Klinger of Derwood, Maryland. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.