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Gen Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr
Birth: Feb. 11, 1920
Pensacola
Escambia County
Florida, USA
Death: Feb. 25, 1978
Colorado Springs
El Paso County
Colorado, USA

US Air Force General. He is best remembered as being the first African-American to reach the rank of 4-Star General in the US Armed Forces, as the Commander-in-Chief of North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) and Air Force Aerospace Defense Command (ADCOM) at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. The youngest of 17 children, his father was a laborer and his mother was a teacher who conducted a school for African-American youths in the backyard of their home. After graduating from Washington High School in Pensacola, Florida in 1937, he attended the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama where he received his nickname "Chappie" and graduated in 1942 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education. He completed civilian pilot training under the government-sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program and remained at Tuskegee as a civilian instructor pilot in the US Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program until January 1943, when he entered the segregated US Army Air Corps program as a cadet and received his commission as a second lieutenant later that July. He then completed fighter pilot combat training at Selfridge Field (now Selfridge Air National Guard Base), Michigan, and trained pilots for the all-black 99th Pursuit Squadron at the US Army Air Force flying school for blacks at Tuskegee for the remainder of World War II. In September 1949 he went to the Philippine Islands as flight leader for the 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 18th Fighter Wing at Clark Field. In July of the following year, he left for Korea, where he flew 101 combat missions in P-51 Mustang and F-80 Shooting Star aircraft during the Korean War. In July 1951 he returned to the US and was assigned to Otis Air Force Base (now Otis Air National Guard Base), Massachusetts as an all-weather jet fighter pilot with the 58th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, later becoming its operations officer. In April 1953 he became commander of the 437th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron and assumed command of the 60th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Otis in August 1955. 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. On August 15, 1954 he appeared as a contestant on the CBS panel game show "What's My Line?" In June 1957 he graduated from the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama and was assigned to Headquarters US Air Force. Washington DC 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 RAF Bentwaters (now Bentwaters Park) in England, where he served successively as assistant director of operations and then director of operations of the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing, commander of 92nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, and deputy commander for operations for the 81st Wing. In September 1964 he returned to the US and was assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, where he was director of operations training and later deputy commander for operations for the 4453rd Combat Crew Training Wing. In December 1966 he went overseas to Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, as deputy commander for operations for the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. The following June, he became the wing vice commander. He flew 78 combat missions into North Vietnam, many in the Hanoi/Haiphong area, and led a flight in the "Operation Bolo" MiG sweep in which seven Communist MiG-21s were destroyed, the highest total kill of any mission during the Vietnam War. In December 1967 he returned to the US to become the vice commander of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. While stationed at Eglin, the Florida State Jaycees named him as Florida's "Outstanding American of the Year" for 1969, and he received the Jaycee Distinguished Service Award. As a colonel, he was transferred to Wheelus Air Base (now Mitiga International Airport) in Tripoli, Libyan Arab Republic in August 1969 as commander of the 7272nd Fighter Training Wing. In March 1970 he returned to the US and became the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) in Washington DC as a brigadier general and was designated principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) in April 1973. On September 1, 1974, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and assumed duty as vice commander of the Military Airlift Command (MAC) (Now Air Mobility Command (AMC)), headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. On September 1, 1975 he was promoted to the rank of general and became the Commander-in-Chief of NORAD/ADCOM at Peterson Air Force Base, with operational command of all United States and Canadian strategic aerospace defense forces. On December 6, 1977, he assumed duty as special assistant to the Chief of Staff, US Air Force, Washington DC, and retired in this position in February 1978, with 35 years of continued active duty military service in the US Army Air Corps and the US Air Force. He was a rated command pilot and among his military decorations and award include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and Presidential Unit Citation. He was widely known for his speeches on Americanism and patriotism, for which he was editorialized in numerous national and international publications and 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 1968 and received the Arnold Air Society Eugene M. Zuckert Award in 1970 for outstanding contributions to Air Force professionalism. Additionally, he received numerous civilian awards during his military career, including the Builders of a Greater Arizona Award (1969), the Phoenix Urban League Man of the Year Award, Distinguished Service Achievement Award from Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity (1970), the American Legion National Commander's Public Relations Award, the Veteran of Foreign Wars Commander in Chief's Gold Medal Award and Citation (1971), the Capital Press Club, Washington, DC, Salute to Black Pioneers Award (1975), and, all in 1976, the Air Force Association Jimmy Doolittle Chapter Man of the Year Award, the Florida Association of Broadcasters' Gold Medal Award, the American Veterans of World War II Silver Helmet Award, the United Service Organization Liberty Bell Award, the Blackbook Minority Business and Reference Guidance Par Excellence Award, the American Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, the United Negro College Fund's Distinguished Service Award, the Horatio Alger Award, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Americanism Medal, the 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 named honorary national commander of the Arnold Air Society in 1971. He died of a heart attack at the age of 58, just three weeks following his retirement from the US Air Force. He is the father of Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Daniel James III. (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Dorothy Watkins James (1921 - 2000)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Section 2, Lot 4968-B map grid V/33.
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 1911
Gen Daniel Chappie James, Jr
Added by: Ron Moody
 
Gen Daniel Chappie James, Jr
Added by: Ron Williams
 
Gen Daniel Chappie James, Jr
Added by: Warrick L. Barrett
 
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- Mairbair57
 Added: Aug. 30, 2014
A true patriot and outstanding American. Rest in peace, General.
- TSGT PMA
 Added: Jul. 18, 2014

- Brenda Hedges
 Added: Jun. 29, 2014
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