William S. Powell, Jr.
June 23, 1925 – April 15, 1996
Class 45-B-SE 4/15/1945 Flt. Officer T69747 Eggertsville, NY
Unit: 99th Pursuit Squadron, 477th Composite Wing
William S. Powell, Jr. was born June 23, 1925 in Lockport, New York to William and Alice Powell. His parents moved to Eggertsville (Amherst) when he was very young. Powell graduated from Amherst High School and attended the University of Buffalo for several years before enlisting into the Army Air Corp. Powell was inducted on 9 November 1943, and was selected as an Aviation Cadet. He was a graduate of the Tuskegee Flight School as one of 992 Tuskegee pilots.
He graduated from Tuskegee Pilot training and was commissioned as a Flight Officer on April 15, 1945. He was assigned to the 99th, which two years before had become the Army Air Force’s first African American squadron. Powell graduated several months before World War II ended and seemingly too late to join the fighting in Europe.
When his military tour of duty was complete Powell returned to Buffalo, completing a Bachelor’s degree in 1950 and a Master’s degree in 1953 both from UB. His Master’s research thesis was on youthful criminal offenders. In 1955, Powell became the first African American Federal Probation Officer in the District of Columbia. In 1966, he was appointed Director of Federal Probation in Buffalo, the first African American to be appointed to that position. He held this position until retirement. William Powell died on April 15, 1996 at age 70 and is buried in the Cold Spring Cemetery in Lockport, New York.
He must have been mighty proud to be a Tuskegee Airman. He kept his brown leather flight jacket with the 99th Pursuit Squadron patch, his helmet, his graduation diploma, flight wings, training manuals, photographs, dog tag and medals.
Visit the Virtual Museum to see some of the 75 pieces of his Tuskegee gear that ended up in an auction in Lone Jack, MO.