Charles W. Tate
October 18, 1922 – November 18, 2005
Graduation Date: 8/30/1943
Unit: 99th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group
Service # 0811290
Charles Tate was from Manchester, PA and graduated from Oliver High School in 1942. After graduation, he enlisted to become a Tuskegee Airman.
Tate was in the first unit of black American fighter pilots who trained at Tuskegee, the black college founded by Booker T. Washington. The Tuskegee Airmen were a regiment of black pilots who flew in the Army Air Forces during World War II. They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. The group trained to be fighter pilots for the 99th Fighter Squadron. They saw action in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany. Tate completed 99 missions and earned a commission of Second Lieutenant. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and four Oak Leaf Clusters and he was later inducted into the Hall of Valor at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, PA.
In the Hall of Valor, his plaque reads that he completed 698 flying hours, 310 were in combat, and he was the flight leader for about 20 missions.
After the war, he re-enlisted and served in the Korean War as a Captain. He then came home and worked for the U.S. Postal Service, rising in the ranks to manager of a Pittsburgh Post Office.
Northsider Jesse Finch met Tate over a decade ago when the two were walking into a grocery store. Finch, who was an employee of the Army Corps of Engineers, was wearing his Army jacket when Tate stopped him.
Finch said that Tate told him not to take his job for granted. When Tate retired from the Army, his desire was to become an engineer, but he wasn’t given the opportunity because of his race and was placed in the Post Office. He worked at USPS, eventually becoming the manager of a facility in Homewood.
Tate passed away on November 18, 2005.
Storyburgh.com, by Alyse Horn
Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Alabama