Earl Sylvester Sherard, Jr.
February 15, 1924 – July 1, 1983
Class: 43 J-SE
Graduation Date: 11/3/1943
Service # 0814837

Earl Sherard was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1924 and grew up in the prominent African-American community of Poindexter Village. A young man in his twenties, Sherard embarked on a journey that would change his life.

On November 3, 1943, 2nd Lt. Earl Sherard graduated from Tuskegee Flight School. By June 24, 1944, the 332nd Fighter Group was assigned a low-flying mission to bombard an enemy supply line near Aircasea, Italy. Among the pilots was 2nd Lt. Sherard.

On that mission, the belly of his plane hit the water. Luckily, Sherard was able to exit his plane, walk out on the wing, and inflate his dinghy before his aircraft sank into the ocean. The rest of the unit continued on to their mission, leaving Sherard to be rescued by a British ship and returned to the base later that day.

Sherard continued to serve as a pilot until 1945 when he was one of the first servicemen mustered out of the military with 96 points. His heartwarming return to Columbus was documented by All-American News.

All-American News made the first newsreels produced for a black audience. The reels were made in the 1940s and 1950s and “intended to encourage black Americans to participate in, and support the war effort, and to reflect an African-American perspective on global and national events.”

After his time in the military, Sherard went on to become a pioneer in the fields of pediatrics and epilepsy, serving as the director of the Division of Neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital. In fact, Dr. Earl Sherard was portrayed by Morgan Freeman in the 1987 film, Fight For Life.

The film was based on the true story of Dr. Sherard’s treatment of a young girl suffering from epilepsy and his determination to bring an anticonvulsant drug approved for treatment in the United States in the late 1970s.

Dr. Sherard’s life of service and his accomplishments speak volumes about the content of his character.

Columbus Navigator


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