Lt. Robert W. Williams, Jr., (1922-1997)

Lt. Robert Williams was a charter member of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen

Robert W. Williams, Jr. was born in Ottumwa, Iowa on September 21, 1922. His father became a pilot and encouraged his sons to learn. They became three of the total 102 black pilots in the United States at that time. After Pearl Harbor, Bob tried to join the Army Air Corps but was at first denied due to the color of his skin. He persisted and when “The Tuskegee Experiment” got underway, he was admitted into the program. He graduated third in his class and joined the 100th Fighter Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group.

On March 31st. 1945, Lt. Williams used airplane “Duchess Arlene” to shoot down two Nazi FW-190 fighter planes during an escort mission to Germany.

The 332nd Fighter Group became the 1st squadron of black combat fighter pilots who overcame racism for the right to serve their country. They destroyed 260 enemy planes, damaged an additional 148 and sank a Nazi ship. Not one U.S. bomber was lost while flying under their protection.

In 1952, Bob wrote a story of his experiences as a fighter pilot and for 43 years attempted to find a Hollywood venue for it. Finally his story was picked up by HBO and in 1995 the movie “The Tuskegee Airmen” aired, educating a nation to the accomplishments of these American heroes.

Robert Williams was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters, and the Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation, among others.

Mr. Williams died in September, 1997. He was 75.