Tuskegee Airmen at the University of Michigan

November 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Michigan Union, Anderson Room

The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is honored to be hosting 3 Tuskegee Airmen to help celebrate Veterans Week 2013.   

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American aviators in the United States military.  They served in WWII under the 332 fighter group and the 477th Bombardment group.  During WWII the military (and the rest of the country) was still segregated through Jim Crowe laws and the Tuskegee Airmen were subject to racism both inside and outside the military.

Come here the stories and meet the brave gentlemen who served in one of the two Tuskegee Airmen squadrons.


Who you will meet:


ALEXANDER JEFFERSON, Lt. Col. USAF Ret., born Detroit, MI 15 November 1921.

Graduate: Chadsey H.S. Detroit. Graduated B.S. Degree, Clark College, Atlanta, GA: Graduate Work in Chemistry, Howard University, Washington, D.C...

In January 1944, he graduated from pilot training course at Tuskegee Army Air Field followed by three months of Combat Training at Selfridge Field, MI. He served as a P-51 fighter pilot with the Red Tail, 332nd Fighter Group, 301st Fighter Squadron in Ramitelli,Italy. In the course of providing protection from enemy aircraft, he flew 18 long range escort missions for B-17 and B-24 bombers. On Aug 12, 1944, three days prior to the invasion of Southern France, he was shot down by ground fire while strafing radar stations on the coast. Captured by German troops and interned for nine months as a prisoner of war, he spent five months in Stalag Luft III, 80 miles east of Berlin on the Odor River.

On January 29, 1945 when the Russians started their offensive, the prisoners, American, British and French, were transferred to Stalag VIA, Mooseburg, approximately 20 miles north of Dachau. Liberated by American forces on 29th of April 1945, he visited Dachau to witness the results of the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

He was discharged from active duty in 1947 and retired from the reserves in 1969 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Following the war, he became an elementary school science teacher in the city of Detroit. He retired as an assistant principal in 1979.

He is an active member of various church, educational and alumni organizations.

He is one of the founders of the Detroit Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen and is a member of the Tuskegee Airmen Speakers Bureau.

As a Life Member of the Silver Falcon Assn., he serves on a voluntary basis as an Admissions Counselor for the United States Air force Academy and the Air Force ROTC.

He is a Life Member of American Ex-Prisoner of War and is a Perpetual Member of the Military Order of the World Wars.


On October 14, 1995 , he was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.


Jesse Rutledge  

Mr. Rutledge was drafted into the army at age 18 and served as a gunner of a B25 over Japan during WWII.  After the war he moved to Detroit and ran various business, including a Laudromat, shoe shop and ice cream parlor.