They were America’s first black military pilots, fighting Nazis in Europe and Jim Crow at home. On this special presentation of Front Center, John Callaway sits down with Robert Martin, Dr. Quentin P. Smith, and Shelby Westbrook, three of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.
Shelby Westbrook was born in Marked Tree, a small town in Arkansas. When his parents passed away, he moved in with his brother in Toledo, Ohio. In March 1943, shortly after he graduated from high school, Westbrook enrolled in aviation cadet training at Tuskegee Army Air Field. (He’d never been in an airplane, but he knew he didn’t want to be in the infantry.) Westbrook finished pilot training in February 1944, and was sent to Selfridge Air Field near Detroit, Michigan, for training in single-engine fighter planes like the P-39 Air Cobra.
In July 1944, after further training in South Carolina, Westbrook was shipped to Italy with the 99th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group. On RR, Westbrook went to Naples, Rome...
[ Read more »