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Charles Dryden

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The opportunities for African Americans to fly in the military were, at one time, non-existent. Inside the military, according to Charles Dryden, blacks were given menial jobs like truck drivers, cooks and cleaners. But during World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen became the first African American pilots in the US armed forces.

The Tuskegee Airmen flew in combat in Europe for the first time on June 2nd 1943, but the first time they encountered Germans was on June 9th. Charles Dryden led the charge.

And despite their success in the air they were still many times treated unfairly on the ground. They were shunned and excluded from military functions. And they worked to change that. So much so that many credit the efforts of the Tuskegee airmen with the eventual desegregation of the US military in 1948, and that as precursor to the civil rights movement.

To hear the radio feature of the life of Airman Charles Dryden, click HERE:

More on Chuck Dryden here:

http://projects.ajc.com/gallery/view/metro/1004atlantaww2/4.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/01/AR2008070102864.html