Ralph Phillip Orduna
August 17, 1920 – May 27, 2003
Class: 44-E-SE
Graduation date: 5/23/1944
Rank at time of graduation: 2nd Lt
Unit: 301 Fighter Squadron
Service # 0830793
From: Omaha NE

Ralph Orduna was born in Omaha and went to Westside Elementary and South High School. He began working at the Martin Bomber Plant sometime after it opened near Omaha in the Spring of 1941, and became the youngest supervisor at the plant.

While he was employed at the Martin Bomber Plant in Omaha, he helped to build the B-26, a medium bomber, and later the heavy bomber the B-29. In 1941, with the help of a family friend who was an Army NCO and the tenacity of his father, Orduna was able to break through discrimination and enlist in the Army Air Corps.

After Orduna graduated from the Tuskegee Flying School, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and was stationed at Ramitelli, Italy with the 301st Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group. The 332nd was the Army’s first all Black fighting force.

Orduna flew 18 missions in the P-51 Mustang. He escorted American bombers on missions and also conducted reconnaissance flights over enemy territory. For his efforts he earned the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters.

After his service to his country, Orduna earned a commercial pilot’s license but was unable to use it due to discriminatory practices of commercial airlines at that time.

Ralph P. Orduna passed away on May 27, 2003. He is now in the memorial ranks of the Tuskegee Airmen “Lone Eagles”.

Sources:
History Harvest
Findagrave.com
Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Alabama

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