John Ira Mulzac, Sr.
Class 44-J-TE
October 11, 1923- February 1, 2015
Unit 477th Medium Bombardment Group

Lt. Colonel John Mulzac. Colonel Mulzac, or Daddy John as he was affectionately called, was among the first black pilots and crews to be trained by the U.S. military to be part of what was to become, the 99th Fighter Squadron, the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Medium Bombardment Group. Approximately 992 black pilots were trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama and of those Airmen, 355 served in combat overseas. These pilots later became known as the Tuskegee Airmen and the support and administrative staff that aided in these efforts came to be known as the Tuskegee Experience.

It was his wife, Beatrice, who pinned on Mulzac’s pilot’s wings upon his graduation from Tuskegee Institute in 1944.

After serving in World War II, Mulzac went on to fly in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He went on to serve in the Air Force Reserve and then as a member of the New York State Air National Guard. From Mulzac’s initial trainer aircraft, the Stearman PT-17, he went on to pilot the P-38 Lightning, the C-119 Flying boxcar and the C-97 Stratocruiser. Overall, Mulzac logged more than 15,000 flying hours for the United States Air Force serving from 1942 to 1983.

In addition to his service with the U.S. Air Force, Mulzac served for 20 years as a New York City firefighter. Mulzac culminated his career with the New York City Fire Department in 1970 and became a member of the First Group of U.S. Sky Marshals who protected American airline carriers against hijacking. He continued his career as a Sky Marshal through 1972 training other Sky Marshals in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia.

Following 21 years of service as a United States Customs Inspector for New York Kennedy Airport’s Area Inspection and Control Division, Daddy John retired.

On March 29, 2007, President George W. Bush collectively presented Lt Col Mulzac and nearly 300 Tuskegee Airmen or their surviving widows, a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal of Freedom at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
“He was a man of integrity and he loved his children, and in his life he wanted to see them all get an education and strive for the best,” wife Beatrice Mulzac, 88, said at his wake in 2015.

That drive was an inspiration for the success of his family. His son Robert Mulzac followed in his father’s footsteps and is a retired FDNY lieutenant. Two of his grandkids, Channing Frye and Tobias Harris, play NBA ball for the Orlando Magic.

“What an inspiration. I knew I could do and be whatever because of him,” his daughter, Karen Mulzac-Frye said after Mulzac’s wake. “Now that he’s gone, I’ve got to work even harder.”

Listen to Lt Col Mulzac share his incredible story.  Thank you, Melzetta Whitmore, for sharing this resource with us!

Visit the Red Tail Virtual Museum to see the service pins featured here were awarded to Lieutenant Colonel John Ira Mulzac during the course of his military service.

Brooklyn Honors 






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