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You can't come in either!

I am not an African-American! I am an American of African descent.

Racial Terminology in the US military


Holloman was born in Saint Louis, Missouri in 1924. His father worked for the US Postal Service from 1919 until 1969.As a child, Holloman was sheltered from discrimination. His family never sat at the cafeteria to eat so he never knew that he wasn't allowed to.There was a movie theater in every neighborhood for them to go to. He never realized that he couldn't go downtown to a movie. The school he attended was all black. It wasn't until he returned home for his first leave in 1944 that he experienced racism. He and a friend went downtown to a movie and were told by the ticket taker that he couldn't bring a colored girl in. When Holloman replied that he wasn't white he was told that he couldn't go in either.Holloman took the exam for aviation cadet training in August 1942. In November he received his draft notice. He reported to the draft board and was sworn in to the US Army Air Corps Reserve.Holloman was changing his clothes after church when he heard his father tell his mother that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Holloman was 17 years old at the time. Hearing that the Japanese had bombed Hawaii didn't bother Holloman that much. He had no idea where Pearl Harbor was. The following morning when President Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan one of Holloman's cousins went right to the recruiter and enlisted in the army.


In 1940 Holloman had attempted to volunteer for the Canadian Air Force. He filled out the application and his father signed it but his mother refused because he was under 18, therefore he was denied.Holloman had started flying at the age of 16 in 1940. When he turned 18 in 1942 he didn't need any permission to join. In June 1943 he reported to Jefferson Barracks and was sent from there to Keesler Field [Annotator's Note: Keesler Field, Mississippi].Holloman was sent to Tuskegee to go to the university. Since the class was short 10 cadets for training, he was sent to Tuskegee Army Air Field and became a cadet. From then on it was training, training, and more training.If they missed a flying day due to bad weather then they would fly on Sundays.After preflight training they returned to the Tuskegee Institute for primary. They had started out with 128 cadets at Keesler, at the start of preflight they were down to 74, and when they finished preflight they were down to 72. Cadets washed out for various reasons. By the time they had completed primary they were down to 38 or 39. They lost 5 more in basic and 2 more in advanced both of who washed out just before graduation.Holloman heard rumors that there had been quotas for graduation. His class captain was washed out. Most of the cadets in his class were 18 years old and some of the student officers were in their early 20s.The first fighter Holloman flew was the P-40 [Annotator's Note: Curtiss P-40 "Tomahawk" fighter aircraft]. After the P-40 Holloman trained in the P-47 [Annotator's Note: Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt" fighter aircraft].Holloman shipped out of New York Harbor and went on a convoy to Italy. When he landed in Italy he was sent to Ramitelli.


When Holloman got to Ramitelli [Annotator’s Note: Italy] there were no P-47s [Annotator's Note: Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt" fighter aircraft]. They were flying P-51s [Annotator's Note: P=51 "Mustang" fighter aircraft].They reported to their squadrons. One of Holloman's friends took him and another friend to the 99th [Annotator's Note: US 99th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group].They were told to read the book and take a couple of flights in the P-51. Holloman had 4 or 5 flights before his first mission. His first mission was to escort a group of B-24s [Annotator's Note: American B-24 bombers].There were five wings of B-24s in the 15th Air Force and one wing of B-17s which totaled 15 groups of B-24s and six groups of B-17s.Holloman had been trained to adjust his altitude when he encountered flak [Annotator's Note: antiaircraft artillery fire]. Sometimes the flak was very thick. When a flak shell hit an airplane the airplane would disintegrate.Because of segregation the men in Holloman's unit all knew each other and were friends. They had been together all through training. The white classes [Annotator’s Note: that did not train at Tuskegee] were broken up several times so the cadets usually didn't graduate with the people they started with.St. Louis produced 22 pilots. Five of them were lost, about 20 percent.Holloman thought that flying was safe. His father had told him about the trenches in World War I. After the war he learned that percentage wise more airmen wer lost than men on the ground. Holloman learned this in the 1960s. He had gone through World War II and Korea and was about to go to Vietnam.


When they got overseas to Italy, black and white [Annotator’s Note: African American and Caucasian], they were a team. When the war ended and they returned to the States, there was a sign at the bottom of the gang plank indicating that whites were to go to one side and colored to the other. Holloman wondered what kind of country had he fought for. He had fought for recognition. He thought that America was a sick country.Holloman thought that after the war he would be a commercial pilot but no one would hire a black pilot. He had to return to the military to keep flying. He left the service in 1947 and went to school but then returned to the service. He was asked to come back by his old commander, Colonel Davis. He helped integrate the Air Force in 1948.Holloman was sent to Biloxi, Mississippi to Keesler Field with 3 other combat veterans. They had no privileges off the base. General Lawrence, the commanding general there, told everyone on base to respect Holloman and the other 3 African-American officers or they would be court-martialed.Each of the 4 had to select a white officer to room with and John Riddle from Phoenix, Arizona became Holloman's roommate. They got along fine and became a bridge playing team.Holloman felt that the people in the South were stupid because they couldn't conceive of a black person being a captain. They assumed that he was white with a suntan. He played bridge for 6 months up and down the Gulf Coast. At a game in Gulfport a lady asked him if he was colored. When he replied that he was, he and his partner were thrown out of the tournament. Word was spread from Miami, Florida to New Orleans that Holloman was colored.Holloman’s stay in Mississippi was a good one. He stayed in Pascagoula, Mississippi.When General Powell took over the base he tried to re-segregate the base. He forbade the African-American officers from swimming in the base pool. A group of officers rebelled and went to the pool anyway. The base commander gave Holloma a choice, he could be grounded [Annotator's Note: not allowed to fly] or leave the service, so Holloman resigned.Holloman headed out to California to go to school at the University of California. By the time he got to Berkeley, the Korean War had started and he had a telegram ordering him to report for duty.Holloman was stationed at Travis Air Force Base. He was a SAC [Annotator's Note: Strategic Air Command] pilot and as a captain was a copilot on a B-29. When he complained about wanting to be checked out as an aircraft commander he was transferred to a new squadron flying B-50s, then was transferred again to a squadron flying B-36s.Holloman felt that SAC and Curtis Lemay [Annotator's Note: USAF General Curtis Lemay] were racists.


A friend of Holloman’s in a MATS [Annotator's Note: Military Air Transport Service] unit needed an operations officer. Holloman transferred to the 1704th flying C-54s. It was a major's slot so Holloman hoped he would be promoted. He was ordered to be checked out in every aircraft that came through the squadron. He flew the "Gooney Bird" C-47, C-54, C-124, C-97, and the C-118 the "Connie" [Annotator's Note: the "Connie" is actually the Lockheed C-121 "Constellation"].Holloman did two trips to Korea.When word came down that a check pilot was needed at Hamilton Field he was selected. There he flew B-17s outfitted with rescue boats and PBYs [Annotator's Note: Consolidated PBY "Catalina" flying boat]. After the B-17s and PBYs were phased out they began flying the SA-16 "Albatross" [Annotator's Note: Grumman SA-16 "Albatross" flying boat].In December of 1952 Holloman saw his name on the unit bulletin board. He had applied for helicopter school since all of the squadrons were getting helicopters. He became the US Air Force's first black helicopter pilot. The army had a few already that were friends of Holloman who had stayed in the army when the army and air force split in 1947.After the Korean War, in 1953, Holloman again resigned from the US Air Force in order to try to become a civilian airline pilot. He was working for Lucky Lager Beer when he ran into a friend of his who asked him to join the army. Holloman went in as a corporal flying helicopters at the Presidio in San Francisco. Three months later his paperwork came back. His commission had been rejected. He spent 2 years as a corporal before flying to Washington to see Brigadier General Morris Banks. General Banks had been Holloman's unit flight surgeon during World War II. He got a waiver and was made a warrant officer. He was sent back through helicopter school. Holloman had more helicopter flight time than his instructor.Holloman was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma [Annotator's Note: Lawton, Oklahoma] as an instructor. From Ft. Sill he was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. At Ft. Bragg Holloman encountered a lot of racism. He was not allowed to have his family with him so he raised a lot of hell. He was sent to Fort Stewart, Georgia. From there he was sent to Thule, Greenland [Annotator’s Note: Thule Air Base, now Peterson Air Force Base].In Thule, Holloman was flying C-54s with his friends from the Air Force and helicopters. When his tour at Thule was up in 1957 he resigned from the army. At th time he had 15 years of service.Holloman joined the reserves and was returned to his Air Force rank of major. He did a tour crop dusting bananas in Central America. In 1957, a Canadian airline offered him a job flying DC-3's. He also flew helicopters.Holloman was in the reserves from December 1957 through 1966 when he was recalled to active duty to go to Vietnam.


Holloman returned to active duty with the stipulation that he be retained for five years so he could retire. The army agreed and Holloman was commissioned a Lieutenant Colonel.After Vietnam, Holloman did a tour of duty in Germany. After leaving the service he opened his own flying school.Holloman still flies at air shows. He was too busy learning to fly at Tuskegee to worry about segregation. Some of his classmates did go into town. He did not.Holloman met a former Tuskegee flight instructor in Branson, Missouri in 1985 who unofficially admitted that they had a quota. The wife of another instructor who lived in Seattle where Holloman lived told him, unofficially, that there had been a quota at Tuskegee.Holloman had gone overseas aboard the USS Grant which had been a cruise ship before the war. The ships cabins had been reconfigured for wartime use. When he returned to the United States from Italy, Holloman was aboard a Victory ship and made the trip in 9 days, half the time it took to get over there.On the return trip there was no nervousness. On the trip over, they spent their days training. On the way back they just enjoyed themselves.When Holloman arrived in Italy, all 7 fighter groups were in the Foggia area and the 21 bomb groups were south of them. The people in the area were short of food.Holloman only experienced one German bombing attack. They had received advance notice and had taken cover by the time the Germans got there.There were 18 to 20 guys who were all under 21. Holloman jokes that Hitler said, "They are sending kids over here, we'd better quit."Holloman had arrived in Italy at the end of February [Annotator’s Note: 1945] and started flying combat missions in March.


A typical day [Annotator’s Note: in Italy during the war in 1945] started at 4:40 or 5:00 in the morning. After breakfast they went to briefing and took care of their personal things. Missions could last 5 or 6 hours and it was difficult to relieve yourself at 30000 feet.Holloman flew primarily escort missions. He flew a total of 19 missions and 12 or 13 of them were escort missions.Holloman only encountered a German fighter once. He broke formation and went after it. For breaking formation Holloman got a letter of reprimand, an Article 15.General Eaker [Annotator's Note: USAAF General Ira C. Eaker] determined that the fighters should stay with the bombers. When he took command of the 12th Air Force he interviewed all of the group commanders and kept the ones he thought would be listened to. Colonel Ben Davis was one of them. Holloman didn't like flying ground support missions.In Italy, Holloman flew P-39s then P-47s then P-51s [Annotator’s Note: all American fighter planes]. They lost a couple of planes on every ground attack mission.Colonel Davis [Annotator's Note: USAAF/USAF General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.] was a professional soldier. He had graduated from West Point in 1936. He inherited a bunch of civilians in uniform. Davis made a military man out of Holloman. He instilled discipline and pride in his men and told them that what they did reflected on the Negro race. He taught them to be the best. Davis and Holloman were friends for life. Holloman knew him before he went into the service.Holloman believes that his unit wouldn't have been as good as it was without Davis.He believes that racism was the reason Davis wasn't promoted at the same rate as the white officers.President Clinton promoted Davis to four stars [Annotator’s Note: to a four star General] in 1998. The only three men to receive their fourth star after they retired were Jimmy Doolittle, Ira Eaker, and Ben Davis.Holloman is not an African-American; he is an American of African descent and is proud of it. An African-American is a person born in Africa who later becomes an American citizen. Holloman has a white friend who was born in Nairobi, Kenya. As a young man he moved to the US and became an American citizen. He served in the US Air Force then went to work for a commercial airline. He is an African-American.Holloman's secretary in Germany is white and had been born in Africa, married an American, and became an American citizen. She is an African-American.Holloman is of African descent but an American first.


Holloman discusses racial terminology. He did not feel that he was being held to a higher standard. He felt that he was judged on his skill.In World War II Holloman's group was not referred to as the Tuskegee Airmen. It wasn't until they started having reunions in 1972 that they started calling themselves the Tuskegee Airmen.In Vietnam, Holloman was in charge of a company of Chinooks [Annotator's Note: Boeing CH-47 "Chinook" dual rotor helicopter], four companies of Hueys [Annotator's Note: Bell Aircraft UH-1 "Iroquois" helicopter, commonly referred to as the Huey], a company of Mohawks [Annotator's Note: Grumman OV-1 "Mohawk" fixed wing aircraft], and a company of other fixed wing aircraft.He retired from the service on 1 October 1972 with 29 years, 7 months, and 15 days of service.Holloman’s desire to fly kept him in the service. He tried in 1947 to get a job as a commercial pilot. He tried again in 1953 and was again turned down.Holloman was disappointed with the army in 1957 because he felt that the army was still racist. He left the army and got a job as a crop duster after which he took a job in Canada. His time in Canada changed his life. There he experienced no racial problems. From 1957 until he returned to the US in 1975, Holloman didn't live in this country. He had 18 years free of racism.He ended up in Seattle. He felt that it was the most open area of the country.He was surprised to learn that the Germans knew more about the blacks that participated in World War II than people in the States did.At the University of Washington, Holloman worked as a guest lecturer. When he went before the committee he was terminated. He didn't know about blacks in the military until he started studying it in 1975. He started out as an Art History major then he specialized in Military History and has been doing it ever since.


Holloman feels that the most positive thing that came out of World War II was in 1948 when President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981 directing the military to study the integration program that was carried out.The next greatest thing was the Democratic Party selecting Barack Obama to be their torch bearer. Holloman was invited to Obama's inauguration. He initially turned the invitation down because it would have cost him too much money but ended up going anyway.Holloman feels that there should be several national World War II museums.He feels that people who volunteer to serve in the American military should be taken care of after they leave the military.

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