Horace Augustus Bohannon, Sr.
August 22, 1922 – May 14, 2003
Class: 44-J Single Engine

Horace Augustus Bohannon, Sr. was born on August 22, 1922, in Atlanta, GA. To help support his family during the Great Depression and Jim Crow era, Horace got his first job at eight years old. His favorite job was working as a helper on a laundry truck that serviced Chandler Field Airport, present-day Jackson Hartfield Airport. While working, he listened to the stories told by the airline pilots, and from then, he dreamed of becoming a pilot.

After graduating from Atlanta’s Booker T. Washington High School, Horace enrolled in Lincoln University outside of Philadelphia, PA. When Lincoln started the program to train Civilian Pilots, he was in the front of the line. Bohannon dropped out of college after his junior year to return home and go to work.  At home, a friend told him about the Tuskegee Army Airfield, TAAF, that the Army was building only a day’s drive from his home.

The thought of the airfield intrigued Bohannon; so, he went to TAAF and found a job as a Carpenter’s Apprentice to be around the program. Shortly after he arrived at Tuskegee, he learned of a program to train Black Instructor Pilots for the incoming Cadets. Bohannon used his training from the Civilian Pilot Training Program to pass the entrance exam. When the Army interrupted the program, Bohannon took a job driving the Cadets from their living quarters to Moton Field. Also, he worked as the Timekeeper in the Control Tower, tabulating cadet’s flight time.

In March 1943, Bohannon quit his job at Moton Field to return to Atlanta to earn money for college. By September, he returned to Lincoln to find out the Army drafted him. Bohannon reported to Fort Benning, GA, and immediately applied for the Army Air Corp. It surprised him how easily he adjusted to Army life. He cherished the camaraderie developed with his classmates. Cadet Horace A. Bohannon graduated as a member of class 44-J Single Engine on December 28, 1943. Lieutenant Bohannon did not fly in combat during the war. After the war, he worked for the Veteran’s Administration in assisting Black Veterans. He also worked as a Teacher, a Juvenile Probation Officer. In 1963 Horace played a major role in history for a second time, when he became the first African American to hold the prestigious position of Regional Management Training Officer with the US Postal Service. He was a compliance specialist for the US Department of Defense.  In 1977, he retired from the Department of Defense’s Office of Contract Compliance. This office assured that hiring practices followed the law.

In retirement, he was in demand as a speaker, especially during Black History Month, and effectively inspiring high school students. Many students were unfamiliar with the Tuskegee Airmen story, but after hearing Bohannon and his fellow airmen speak, school children looked up to them as celebrities. Mr. Bohannon spearheaded two successful fundraising drives that erected statues to honor Charles S. Harper, Booker T. Washington High School’s first principal, and J. D. Winston of the Butler Street YMCA.

Horace A. Bohannon joined the Lonely Eagles on May 14, 2003, at the age of 80.

Source:
Tuskegee Airmen, Inc
Legacy.com
OUPblog

Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Alabama

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