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Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation

Mr. Buford A Johnson was born in Longview Texas on August 30, 1927 to the parents Mr. Hickory Johnson and Mrs. Johnie E Henry. After finishing high school he moved to Vallejo, California where he found employment at the Mare Island Navy Shipyard. In 1945 Mr. Johnson was drafted into the military service and was trained at Sheppard Field Texas. In 1946 he was assigned to the Tuskegee Airmen group and went on to become a Crew Chief. He was assigned to the 477th Composite Group, 99th Fighter Squadron. Upon completion of aircraft maintenance training, he was assigned as crew chief of a P47N fighter aircraft. While serving as crew chief, he was selected to maintain his aircraft in the first Air Force Gunnery meet at Nellis AFB, Las Vegas, NV. As recalled by Mr. Johnson, “Our pilots competed with units flying conventional fighter aircrafts and was awarded first place as a result of their flying skills.”

He was among the first group of Tuskegee Airmen to integrate the Itazuke AFB, Fukuoka, Japan, where he became the first African American to be assigned as crew chief on the first jet fighter (P-80C) assigned to the squadron and also first in combat with jet aircraft of USAF. As he became more experienced, he was assigned as Flight Chief, Aircraft Technical Inspector, Maintenance Control Supervisor and Production Control Supervisor. Mr. Johnson Served 21 years in the Air force, was employed by Lockheed Aircraft Company for 7 years in Burbank, CA, completed Computer Engineering Course at Control Data in Los Angeles and was employed by UNISYS for 17 years. Mr. Johnson was currently the Vice-President of the Inland Empire Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., which is located in the Riverside, California area.

This Bio was prepared on March 11, 2006 for a speaking engagement at a high school, where Mazee Buford A Johnson was the main presenter of the unique history of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Tuskegee Airman Buford Johnson Dies - Joins the Lonely Eagles

Fred Johnson, Tuskegee Airman and Educator, Dies at 92

In Loving Memory

August 30, 1927 - April 15, 2017

Captain Luther H. Smith, a decorated Tuskegee Airmen pilot flew 133 combat missions over Europe. Along with 275 other African American pilots, Smith completed nine months of aviator training in May 1943 and was commissioned at Tuskegee Airfield in Alabama. During the war, he escorted B-24 Liberators and B-17 Flying Fortresses over Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and southwest Germany. Smith was credited with destroying two German aircraft in aerial combat and 10 German aircraft on the ground in strafing attacks. He suffered permanent injuries on his final mission, when he parachuted from his burning P-51 Mustang fighter over Hungary on Oct. 13, 1944. After his honorable discharge, he returned to the University of Iowa, earning an engineering degree was subsequently hired by General Electric, where he spent 37 years working as an aerospace engineer. Capt. Smith joined the Lonely Eagles in 2009.

Capt Luther Smith Passed Away at the Age of 89

His accomplishments were many, both in the military and in the world of education, where Johnson was a part of the initial faculty to staff the first high school for African-American students in Sussex County – William C. Jason High School – and later became the first black educator at Wilmington's Warner Junior High School. He worked there and eventually served as chairman of the science department until his retirement in 1981. (Excerpt taken from Johnson and family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation.

Photo: Jennifer Corbett/The News Journal