July 11, 1946 – March 2021
Rudolf Silas was born in Lehigh, Oklahoma and joined the Army Air Corps on July 11, 1946. After basic training in San Antonio, he was sent to Williams Field, Arizona where he served in Squadron F Base Service Squadron. There he received training as an aircraft and engine mechanic, performing maintenance on P-47 Thunderbolts, P-51 Mustangs and B-25 Mitchells.
He then served for three years at Randolf AFB, Texas in support of B-29 Combat Crew Training Program for Southeast Asia. After Randolph, he moved to Norton AFB in California, where he crewed on B-25s.
After 20 years of service, Silas retired from the Air Force in 1966 at the rank of Technical Sergeant.
He is the recipient of the World War II Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal and the Air Crew Member Badge.
Following his Air Force service, Silas returned to Oklahoma and began a new career at Tinker AFB Air Logistics Center Aircraft and Engine Depot as a quality assurance specialist – a civil service position. He was also certified as an Airframe and Powerplant mechanic in 1984. He retired in 1987 as a GS-12 with a combined total of 39 years of service to his country.
He was a long time CAF member, having been on the team that restored the B-29 ‘FiFi’ to flying condition, and at Airbase Arizona helping to keep the B-25 ‘Maid in the Shade’ in flying condition in more recent years.
Silas was among the elite contingent of Arizona Tuskegee Airmen who were inducted into Airbase Arizona’s Walk of Honor in 2015.
Submitted by Bobbie Carleton
Museum Director of the Airbase Arizona Commemorative Air Force