Brief Facts

African-American Notables & Firsts
Among Korean War Veterans

 
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Becton, Julius Wesley Jr.

Becton had a 36-year career in the Army.  Born June 29, 1926 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, he joined the Army Air Corps Enlisted Reserves in 1943.  He entered active duty in July of 1944.  He graduated from OCS in 1945.  He was wounded twice in Korea and was a platoon commander of 3rd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment in 1950.  Every soldier in that battalion was African-American.  He was a World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam veteran.  He retired from the Army in 1983.  In 1960 Julius received a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Prairie View A&M University in Texas.  In 1967 he received a masters in economics from the University of Maryland at College Park.  In the 1990s he was chief executive officer of the troubled District of Columbia Public Schools.  His public service in the federal government included directorship of FEMA.  He was president of Prairie View University in 1989.

Cartwright, Roscoe Conklin

Born on May 27, 1919 in Kansas City, Kansas, Cartwright was drafted into the Army in 1941 and attended OCS in 1942.  He was promoted to captain and served in Korea in an integrated army.  From 1951 to 1955 he was an instructor in the ROTC program at West Virginia State College.  He was a colonel during the Vietnam War and was commander of the 108th Artillery Group.  He held government positions, and was Director of the National Petroleum Council, the policy-making body of the oil industry.  Roscoe died in the crash of a jet liner at Dulles on December 01, 1974.

Cherry, Fred Vann

Born on March 24, 1928 in Suffolk, Virginia, Cherry graduated from Virginia Union University, Richmond.  He entered the Air Force in October of 1951.  After flight training he served in Korea, conducting 52 combat missions.  He was the 43rd American and first African-American captured in the Vietnam War.  He endured three weeks of torture at the "Hanoi Hilton".  He retired from the Air Force after 30 years service in 1981.  In 1992 he founded Cherry Engineering Support Services, the company that designed and developed equipment for traffic control.

Daniel, James "Chappie" Jr.

Born February 11, 1920 in Pensacola, Florida, he joined the Army Air Corps.  During the Korean War he joined the 18th Fighter Group leading the "Ferocious Four".  He flew as many as eight combat missions per day in the P-51 Mustang. He received a Distinguished Flying Cross in Korea for action near Namchonjom, Korea on October 15, 1960.  He served in the Vietnam War in Operation Bolo.  On September 1, 1975, Daniel became the first African-American four-star general.  He was named commander of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD).  He retired from the Air Force on January 26, 1978 after 35 years service.  On February 24, 1978 he suffered a heart attack and died.

Davis, Benjamin Oliver Jr.

Born December 18, 1912 in Washington, DC, he died July 4, 2002 in Washington, DC.  He was the fourth African-American to graduate from West Point.  His father was the first African-American general in U.S. History.  Benjamin Jr. was an instructor of Tuskegee airmen.  In 1953 he commanded the 51st Fighter Inceptor Wing at Suwon Air Base, South Korea.  He became a brigadier general and then major general.  In 1965 he was chief of staff of the UN Command and US Forces in Korea.  He retired from the Air Force in 1970 and then briefly worked as director of public safety for Cleveland, Ohio.  He also worked with the Department of Transportation to solve the problem of commercial hijacking.

Petersen, Frank Emmanuel Jr.

Born on March 2, 1932 in Topeka, Kansas, he joined the US Naval Reserve as seaman apprentice in June 1950.  He was designated marine aviator and 2nd Lieutenant on October 22, 1952.  He was the first African-American to fly for the Marines.  In 1953 he was assigned to Fighter Attack Squadron 212 "Devil Cats".  He flew 64 combat missions and earned six air medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross in Korea.  He was the first African-American to attend the National War College in D.C., and then served in Vietnam.  He was the first African-American general in the Marine Corps.  He retired in 1988 after 38 years of service.  He then served on the board of directors of the National Aviation Research and Education Foundation.  Beginning in 1999, he served two years as chair of the National Marrow Donor Program.  In 1999 he joined DuPont Aviation as a vice president.

Robinson, Hugh Cranville (post-Korean War)

He was the first African-American military aide to a president of the USA (Lyndon Johnson.  He graduated from West Point in 1954 and was a platoon leader and company commander in Korea from April 1955 to July 1956.  During the Vietnam War he was executive officer of the 45th Engineer Group and then commander of the 39th Engineer Combat Battalion.  He was promoted to Brigadier General, being the Army Corps of Engineers first African-American general.  He retired from the Army in 1983 and that same year he joined the Southland Corporation as vice president.  He supervised the construction of Southland's corporate office complex in Dallas, Texas.  In 1989 he became chairman and chief executive officer of the Tetra Group.  In 2003 he held the same title with the Cranville Construction and Development Company.  He was then Chief Executive Officer of Global Building Systems, then chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Robinson, Roscoe Jr.

Born October 28, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, he graduated from West Point in 1951.  During the Korean War he served with the 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.  In 1954 he was instructor in the airborne school at Ft. Benning.  He served during the Vietnam War, and then in August of 1982 he became the first African-American four-star general in the Army.  He retired in October of 1983.  He served on the Board of Directors of the parent company of Northwest Airlines.  He died on July 22, 1993 of leukemia.

Simmons, Bettye Hill (post-Korean War)

Bettye Hill was born in San Antonio, Texas on February 15, 1950.  She entered the Army Nurse Corps after high school and in June of 1971 she got her first assignment as a clinical staff nurse at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.  In June of 1973 she became an instructor of practical nursing at Brooke.  In June of 1977 she became head nurse at the 121st Evacuation Hospital in Korea.  The next year she became head nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.  During her military career she met and married Charles W. Simmons, an Army Reserve Officer.  She became the first African-American nurse to hold the dual role of deputy commander of the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School which had 30,000 students on and off-site, and the 20th Chief of the Army Nurse Corps with 4,000 active personnel.  Bettye Hill-Simmons retired from active duty in 2000 and then became director of the Leadership Institute at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia.

Waller, Calvin Agustine Hoffman (post Korean-War)

Born December 17, 1937 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he entered the Army in August of 1959. In December 1963 he was made chief of the Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Center in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, 7th Logisti Command, 8th US Army in Korea. He retired from the Army on November 30, 1991 as one of the highest ranking African-Americans in the armed forces. In July 1995 he joined the environmental contractor Kaiser=Hill as Senior Vice President for Department of Energy programs. Between 1995 and 2005, Haiser-Hill managed a cleanup of radioactive hazardous materiaqls from Rocky Flats, a former nuclear weapons plant outside of Denver. Waller died of a heart attack on May 9, 1996 while visiting Washington, D.C.

 
 
 

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