Class 45-E-SE 8/4/1945
Service # T70223
William Fuller was born in Detroit in 1924, he registered for draft at age 18 and received induction papers but in the meantime had heard of Tuskegee program so took a special intelligence test and got a high grade. When he was drafted, he took those test results to the draft board. He was told by draft board that the Army Air Corps could have him.
He was sent to basic training at Keesler Air Field in Mississippi. It was his first exposure to the segregationist policies of the Army. When a superior officer called him “boy,” Mr. Fuller took exception and as a result spent the first ten days there washing pots and pans for 10 hours/day as punishment.
Class 45E graduated in August 1945. VE Day was May 8, 1945. Fuller was still a cadet when the war in Europe ended and never saw combat.
Post war and career:
Mr. Fuller attended Wayne State University. After the war, he went to work for Chrysler Corporation and held a management position in the training department. One of his jobs there was to work with disadvantaged kids, to prepare them for life in the working world. His team would start at the beginning – helping the kids choose the clothes to wear the following day, how to work an alarm clock, how to be on time, etc. Many of these young people ended up working at Chrysler but some did not meet the standards so Chrysler helped to place them outside of the company.
Mr. Fuller said, “The days of the desirable unskilled jobs are gone. The corporate job training programs are pretty much gone, too. A solid education is key to success now, along with good work habits. Work habits are something you have to learn. Only some of the Tuskegee Airmen had exposure to airplanes before coming to train at Tuskegee. The rest of us had to learn everything there was to know about airplanes and develop the discipline to fly them or we would wash out. I appreciate what the CAF Red Tail Squadron is doing with our story – helping today’s youth see that it is possible to meet challenges head on and by working through them and never giving up, move forward toward a goal.”
On March 7, 2012 the Oakland County Board of Commissioners in Pontiac, MI presented a Proclamation plaque honoring Lt William Fuller for his service to our country.
See the photo and more information in the Virtual Museum!
Based on an interview with Mr. Fuller, Oct. 22, 2012 with CAF Red Tail Squadron
Craig Huntly, Tuskegee Airmen Subject Matter Expert