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LTC Charles Walter "A-Train" Dryden
Birth: Sep. 16, 1920
New York
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA
Death: Jun. 24, 2008
Atlanta
Fulton County
Georgia, USA

Tuskegee Airman. One of the first of the pioneering black World War II pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Lt Colonel Charles W. Drydens 21 year military career included combat missions in Korea and assignments in Japan, Germany and U.S. bases. He was a member of the famed 99th Pursuit Squardron and 32nd Fighter Group that served in North Africa and Italy during WWII. Dryden was born in New York City to Jamaican parents who were educators. He graduated from Peter Stuyvesant High School and earned his B.A. degree in political science from Hofstra University and his M.A. degree in public law and government from Columbia Univeristy. In 1996, he was awarded an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters by Hofstra University. Three months prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Dryden enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a cadet. Sent to Tuskegee Army Flying School, a segregated training base in Alabama for black aviators, he became a member of the 42-D, the second class graduated from the station. Dryden was assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron, the first black United States military flying unit that was dispatched to North Africa under command of Lt. Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. The inexperienced unit flew P-40s in air-ground support and medium bomber escort missions and soon earned the respect of senior officers, challenging initial skepticism in many quarters as to the ability of Negroes in flying and fighting. On June 9, 1943, Dryden was flight leader of six P-40s on patrol over the island of Pantelleria when they encountered Luftwaffe fighters escorting bombers on a mission to attack allied troops. In the 99th's first encounter with enemy fighters, Lieutenant Drydfen led his flight, outnumbered by the enemy, to victory, damaging one enemy fighter and causing the enemy bombers to drop their bombs into the sea and retreat. The novice 99th suffered no damage. In October, 1943, Dryden returned to the United States to help train an all black fighter group to be designated the 332nd. As flight instructor at Selfridge Field, Michigan, and Walterboro Army Air Field, South Carolina, Dryden prepared hundreds of pilots for aerial combat. Shortly after the three original squadrons of the 332nd arrived overseas, they were joined by the seasoned 99th, and the all black group established itself as a well disciplined, successful fighting unit. As escorts, this group never lost a friendly bomber to enemy fighters-a distinction to which no other allied fighter group can lay claim. As a career officer, Colonel Dryden served in the Korean War as a forward observer pilot who flew an unarmed plane behind enemy lines relaying valuable information to headquarters on location and movement of enemy forces. Following the war, he served as a professor of air science at Howard Univeristy and retired in 1962 as a command pilot with 4,000 hours flying time. Dryden later retired from Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems Company in Georgia after 13 years and then worked actively in the greater Atlanta area (where he and his family had made home)with young people in schools and churches. A source of inspiration for many who aspired to or have chosen careers in aerospace, he served on the advisory board of Aviation Career enrichment, Inc., a non-profit youth motivation organization in Atlanta. Dryden was a member of several organizations and received numerous awards. He was inducted into the Honorable Orders of Daedalians in 1997 and was designated and Outstanding Georgia Citizen by the Secretary of State the same year. He was a member of the board of directors of the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame, the Atlanta Metro Lions Club and the Atlanta Chapter-Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. (ACTAI), which he helped found in 1978 and which he served as president, vice president and national convention committee chairman in 1980 and 1995. Dryden was the author of A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman, released in April, 1997. He also was enshrined in the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame May 16, 1998 and in March 2007 President Bush and Congress awarded the Tuskegee Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal. Some 300 surviving airmen-including Dryden-gathered in Washington for the ceremony. Dryden was married twice and had six sons and one daughter. Lt Colonel Charles W. Dryden, an inspiration for so many died in an Atlanta hospital of natural causes at age 87. (bio by: Curtis Jackson) 
 
Burial:
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Section 59, Site 3370
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Curtis Jackson
Record added: Jul 01, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 27967643
LTC Charles Walter A-Train Dryden
Added by: Curtis Jackson
 
LTC Charles Walter A-Train Dryden
Added by: Curtis Jackson
 
LTC Charles Walter A-Train Dryden
Added by: Anne Cady
 
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- Stacey
 Added: Sep. 17, 2014

- sjm
 Added: Sep. 16, 2014
~Happy Birthday~And Thank You for Your Service~
- Nancy VonBokern Wigginton
 Added: Sep. 16, 2014
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