Captain William W. Green II
December 8, 1920 – November 24, 1978
Graduation Date: 7/28/1943
Unit: 332nd Fighter Squadron
Service # 0809240
The dreams that exist in one’s mind, however, are color blind and William Green’s dream was to be a pilot. And so, despite living under the burden of discrimination and segregation he went off to school to pursue that dream. When war broke out, he answered his nation’s call and became one of the now famous Tuskegee Airman – African-American pilots who proved they were among the best pilots in the nation.
In the span of a week, 1st Lt. William W. “Chubby” Green Jr. collected his second aerial victory, was shot down, helped deliver supplies to a group of Yugoslav Partisans and returned to his base.
Green of Staunton, Va., graduated July 28, 1943, from flight training at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. In December, he deployed to Italy with the 302nd Fighter Squadron, part of the 332nd Fighter Group. The 302nd Fighter Squadron flew its first combat mission on Feb. 5, 1944.
In June, the 332nd Fighter Group was assigned bomber escort missions. On June 9, the group was flying top-cover for bombers to Munich, Germany. Near Udine, Italy, four enemy planes attacked the escorted B-24 bombers, triggering a dogfight. At about the same time, five more enemy planes were spotted. Lt. Melvin “Red” Jackson fired on one of the enemy planes, sending it into a spin, but leaving Jackson vulnerable to another German fighter.
Eight P-47 pilots, including 2nd Lt. Green, attacked the four remaining enemy planes. Green fired on the Messerschmitt 109 that was pursuing Jackson; Lt. Charles M. Bussy then fired on the same German fighter, blowing the tail off. The enemy plane exploded. The 302nd Fighter Squadron collected its first three aerial victories that day. Green collected his first aerial kill one week later.
On July 16, 45 P-51 Mustangs from the 332nd Fighter Group were sent on a fighter sweep over Vienna, Austria. The group spotted an Italian fighter closing in on a U.S. bomber; formation leader Capt. Alfonza W. Davis ordered his flight to intercept the enemy plane.
“We were returning from a target at 28,000 feet when our flight leader, Capt. ‘Preflight’ Davis, spotted a lone B-24 bomber in trouble headed for home about 10,000 feet below us,” Lt. Eugene D. Smith said in an interview published in “The Tuskegee Airmen: The Men Who Changed a Nation” by Charles E. Francis and Adolph Caso. “He called the flight and said he would take the bomber home. Almost immediately after his call, he rolled over into a vertical dive followed by Lt. Green and myself. I didn’t see immediately what he was after, but in a short order I saw two (Italian) Macchi 202s starting to dive behind the bomber.
“Capt. Davis gave chase and lined up the rear fighter, but he was traveling so fast he overshot it. He continued to line up the first enemy plane. Lt. Green took the last one and I followed Capt. Davis, who opened fire and the Macchi started smoking. However, Capt. Davis was traveling so fast he was overtaking the enemy, so he broke rather than overshoot. The enemy plane, however, had been badly damaged and went into the ground in a diving turn. Meantime, Green got his plane and we returned home with two aircraft to our credit.”
During a mission to strafe railroads in Hungary and Czechoslovakia on Oct. 12, pilots from the 302nd Fighter Squadron received a radio report that an enemy plane had been seen near a landing field. The pilots went to investigate, finding not one plane, but 12. Within 15 minutes, nine of the planes had been destroyed, and 1st Lt. Green claimed his second aerial credit.
The next day, after escorting bombers to oil refineries in Germany, the 332nd Fighter Group hoped to repeat the previous day’s victories. Two flights from the 302nd Fighter Squadron targeted a Hungary airfield, destroying several planes and damaging a few more. But two pilots were shot down by flak: Green was able to parachute from his plane; 1st Lt. Walter Westmoreland was killed. Green was picked up by the Yugoslav Partisans, a Communist resistance group led by Marshal Josip Broz Tito. The next day, Green volunteered to help a British mission drop supplies to Tito’s men scattered throughout Yugoslavia. A few days later, a group of Russian pilots landed at the base where Green was staying and agreed to fly him back to a friendly base.
According to “The Tuskegee Airmen: The Men Who Changed a Nation” and “Black Knights: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen” by Lynn Homan and Thomas Reilly, Green was awarded Yugoslavia’s Partisan Star after the war. According to military records, Green also was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, an Air Medal with several oak leaf clusters and a Purple Heart.
Class 43-G graduated from flight training on July 28, 1943, at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama.
Front row, left to right: Lowell C. Steward, William R. Melton Jr., Walter D. Westmoreland, Maurice R. Page, Elmer W. Taylor, Jack D. Holsclaw, Eddie A. McLaurin, Cornelius G. Rogers, William W. Green, George B. Greenlee Jr., Clayborne A. Lockett, John Daniels. Back row, left to right: Lee A. Archer, William B. Ellis, Alva N. Temple, William R. Bartley, LeRoi S. Williams, James W. Mason, Beryl Wyatt, Daniel James Jr., Edward M. Smith, Robert H. Nelson, John H. Leahr, Harry L. Bailey, Richard E. Hall, Robert H. Wiggins, Samuel L. Curtis.
Not in photo: Raymond Cassagno
(Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force Historical Research Agency)