Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. – General, United States Air Force

Born February 11, 1920 at Pensacola, Florida, he learned to fly while attending the Tuskegee Institute and after graduation in 1942 continued civilian flight training until he received appointment as a Cadet in the Army Air Corps in January 1943.

He was commissioned in July 1943 and throughout the remainder of World War II he trained pilots for the all-black 99th Pursuit Squardon and worked in other assignments. He was subsequently stationed in Ohio and in the Philippines.

During the Korean War he flew 101 missions in fighters. From 1953 to 1956 he was at Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts, receiving promotion to Major in that period. On graduating from the Air Command-Staff School in 1957, he was assigned to staff duty in Washington.

From 1960 to 1964, he was stationed in England and from 1964 to 1966 in Arizona and in 1966-67 in Vietnam where he flew 78 combat missions.  By then a Colonel, he was Vice Commander of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing, Elgin Air Force Base, Florida, in 1967-69, and then promoted to Brigadier General, was named base commander of Wheelus Air Force Base in Libya.

In March 1970 be became Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and advanced to Major General. In September 1974, with the rank of Lieutenant General, he became Vice Commander of the Military Airlift Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

In September 1975 he became the first black officer in the history of the United States military to attain 4-star full General rank. At that time he was named Commander of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), with responsibility for all aspects of the air defense of the United States and Canada. He was also much-sought after as a public speaker and devoted considerable time to addressing youth groups, particularly minority students.

He died shortly after his retirement from the Air Force of a heart attack in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His private memorial in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery says, in part:

“This is my country and I believe in her. I’ll protect her against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Courtesy of the United States Air Force

Retired February 1978, Died February 25, 1978

General Daniel James Jr., is special assistant to the chief of staff, U.S. Air Force.

General James was born in 1920, in Pensacola, Florida, where he graduated from Washington High School in June 1937. From September 1937 to March 1942, he attended Tuskegee Institute, where he received a bachelor of science degree in physical education and completed civilian pilot training under the government-sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program.

He remained at Tuskegee as a civilian instructor pilot in the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program until January 1943, when he entered the program as a cadet and received his commission as a second lieutenant in July 1943. He next completed fighter pilot combat training at Selfridge Field, Michigan, and was assigned to various units in the United States for the next six years.

In September 1949, General James went to the Philippines as flight leader for the 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 18th Fighter Wing, at Clark Field. In July 1950 he left for Korea, where he flew 101 combat missions in P-51 and F-80 aircraft.

General James returned to the United States and in July 1951 went to Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts, as an all-weather jet fighter pilot with the 58th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron and later became operations officer. In April 1953 he became commander of the 437th FIS, and in August 1955 he assumed command of the 60th FIS. While stationed at Otis, he received the Massachusetts Junior Chamber of Commerce 1954 award of “Young Man of the Year” for his outstanding community relations efforts. He graduated from the Air Command and Staff College in June 1957.

General James next was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as a staff officer in the Air Defense Division of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. In July 1960 he was transferred to the Royal Air Force Station at Bentwaters, England, where he served successively as assistant director of operations and then director of operations, 81st Tactical Fighter Wing; commander, 92d Tactical Fighter Squadron; and deputy commander for operations for the 81st Wing. In September 1964 General James was transferred to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, where he was director of operations training and later deputy commander for operations for the 4453d Combat Crew Training Wing.

General James went to Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in December 1966, as deputy commander for operations, 8th TFW, and in June 1967 was named wing vice commander. He flew 78 combat missions into North Vietnam, many in the Hanoi/Haiphong area, and led a flight into the Bolo Mig sweep in which seven Communist Mig 21s were destroyed, the highest total kill of any mission during the Vietnam War.

He was named vice commander of the 33d TFW at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in December 1967. While stationed at Eglin, the Florida State Jaycees named General James as Florida’s Outstanding American of the Year for 1969, and he received the Jaycee Distinguished Service Award. He was transferred to Wheelus Air Base in the Libyan Arab Republic in August 1969 as Commander of the 7272d Fighter Training Wing.

General James became deputy assistant secretary of defense (public affairs) in March 1970 and was designated principal deputy assistant secretary of defense (public affairs) in April 1973. He assumed duty as vice commander of the Military Airlift Command, with headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Sept. 1, 1974.

General James was promoted to four-star grade and assigned as commander in chief, NORAD/ADCOM, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Sept. 1, 1975. In these dual capacities, he had operational command of all United States and Canadian strategic aerospace defense forces. He assumed his present duty as special assistant to the chief of staff, U.S. Air Force, Dec. 6, 1977.

General James is widely known for his speeches on Americanism and patriotism for which he has been editorialized in numerous national and international publications. Excerpts from some of the speeches have been read into the Congressional Record. He was awarded the George Washington Freedom Foundation Medal in 1967 and again in 1968. He received the Arnold Air Society Eugene M. Zuckert Award in 1970 for outstanding contributions to Air Force professionalism. His citation read “… fighter pilot with a magnificent record, public speaker, and eloquent spokesman for the American Dream we so rarely achieve.”

Other civilian awards that General James has received include the following: 1969 – Builders of a Greater Arizona Award; 1970 – Phoenix Urban League Man of the Year Award, Distinguished Service Achievement Award from Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity; 1971 – American Legion National Commander’s Public Relations Award, Veteran of Foreign Wars Commander in Chief’s Gold Medal Award and Citation; 1975 – Capital Press Club, Washington, D.C., Salute to Black Pioneers Award; 1976 – Air Force Association Jimmy Doolittle Chapter Man of the Year Award, Florida Association of Broadcasters’ Gold Medal Award, American Veterans of World War II Silver Helmet Award, United Service Organization Liberty Bell Award, Blackbook Minority Business and Reference Guidance Par Excellence Award, American Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, United Negro College Fund’s Distinguished Service Award, Horatio Alger Award, VFW Americanism Medal, Bishop Wright Air Industry Award, and the Kitty Hawk Award (Military). He was awarded honorary doctor of laws degrees from the University of West Florida in 1971, the University of Akron in 1973, Virginia State College in 1974, Delaware State College in 1975, and St. Louis University in 1976. He was also named  honorary national commander, Arnold Air Society in 1971.

General James is a command pilot. He has received numerous military decorations and awards.

Daniel Chappie James, Jr,
Born 11 February 1920
Died 25 February 1978
US Air Force
Residence: Falls Church, Virginia
Section 2, Grave 4968B LH, Buried 2 March 1978

Dorothy W. James
Born 27 June 1921
Died 2 May 2000
Section 2, Grave 4968B LH, buried 9 May 2000

JAMES, Dorothy Watkins, A month and a half after she was laid to rest May 9, 2000 in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, a tribute will be held at Tuskegee University Saturday, June 17 for Mrs. Dorothy Watkins James. The noon service will be held in the James Memorial Hall of the Daniel “Chappie” James Center for Aerospace Science and Health Education.

Mrs.James was the wife of the late General Daniel James, Jr. the nation’s first African American four-star General and the most celebrated Tuskegee Airman.

Mrs. James was 79 years old. She was a native of Tuskegee and attended Chambliss Children’s House High school and she was a 1943 graduate of Tuskegee University.

She passed away May 2 and was buried next to her husband in Arlington National Cemetery following a funeral mass at Fort Myer, Virginia.

Mrs. James was the oldest of two daughters born to J. A. and Daisy F. Watkins. Mr. Watkins was a deacon and Sunday School Superintendent at Greenwood Baptist Church in Tuskegee for over 30 years. In addition to Major General James III, survivors include two other children, Danice J. Berry, San Diego, California, and Claude A. James, San Antonio, Texas; a son-in-law, Dr. Frank W. Berry, Jr.; daughters-in-law, Dana M. James and Diane James; five grandchildren; a sister and brothers-in-law Aubrey W. Simms and Robert H. Simms of Miami Lakes, Florida; a stepmother, Addie Watkins, Tuskegee, a niece, a nephew, uncles, aunts,and many cousins.


Tuesday, May 2, 2000, in San Antonio, Texas, DOROTHY W. JAMES, widow of the late General Daniel ”Chappie” James; mother of Danice J. Berry, Maj. General Daniel James III and Claude James. She is also survived by five grandchildren, Jamie M., Max W. and Frank W. Berry III, Ryan M. and Brittany D. James; a sister, Aubrey Simms; a niece, Lia Mitchell; a sister-in-law, Lillie J. Frazier; and a host of other relatives and friends. Friends may call at the GREENE FUNERAL HOME, INC., 814 Franklin St., Alexandria, Virginia, Monday, May 8, 2000, from 7 to 9 p.m. The Rosary will be said at 8 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be conducted Tuesday, May 9, 2000, 1:45 p.m., at the Post Chapel, Fort Myer, VA, followed by interment at Arlington National Cemetery.





(Funeral Photos Courtesy of the Defense Department)



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