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15th Jul 2021

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Ross, Washington

Posted on 15 September, 2021 by in ,

 

This was written on July 13 2019 from notes and memory of my interview in 2912 with Lt. Col. Washington Ross Army Air Corps Tuskegee Airman P-51 Pilot.  Mr. Ross was born 1919.  Washington passed away in the fall of 2017 in March I believe.  This is per his son Mark Ross whom I spoke to in mid 2018.

 

I had been looking for African American service men for years with no luck when Jackson Mi. librarian Debby Sears found two articles  in the Detroit News about two Tuskegee Airmen in late June 2012.  The other Tuskegee Airman was Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson who I interviewed about this same time.

 

He was flying in Flint (I assume he was in Army training) when he lost a engine.

Lt. Ross (his rank during the war) was never saluted by the white enlisted men even though he as a commissioned officer)  he or Lt. Jefferson told me this and which ever one told me this said that he thought that the white officers ordered the enlisted men to not salute the black officers.  One of them told me this about not knowing for sure.

 

Lt. Ross completed his training as a pilot and was  assigned to the 15th Air Force in Romitille Italy with the 332 Redtails.  He flew the P-39, P47 and the P51 in combat.  Col. Ross told me of seeing two German jets ME 262 while he was on a mission but thinks they were training and did not attack either him or the bombers that  he was protecting.

Washington first flew in a Ford Tri Motor in about 1934 at age 15 for one penny per pound of body weight.  Washington taught Jr. High in the Detroit school system and was there during the 1967 riots.  He witnessed a looter stealing a piano and pushing it right down the street, which he thought was very peculiar.  He also saw people from out of state rioting.

 

Washington told me as I understood it that there were about 950 Tuskegee pilots in 1945 and about 92 left when I met him in 2012.  There were many more Tuskegee men and women but not pilots, they were mechanics, instructors.

 

They were led by White officers for training.  Mr. Jefferson talks about the commanding officer Col. Noel Parish at Tuskegee very highly later in his interview.

 

Mr. Ross sent me a note that I have in my yellow notebook which states.

 

Larry,

 

“Just a note to let you know I received my DVD.  I played it and I want to tell you it is one of the best that I have.  The color was good and the sound was great.  Which one of the cameras ( I had two camera’s set up) did you use?  You did a great job.  The telephone numbers are listed below.  I have two sons in the area so I am sending you both.   Signed Washington Ross”. I Larry Martin appreciated this note very much.

 

Note found on 21 August 2019 written 2 July 2013.

 

I spoke to Tuskegee Airman Washington Ross, he told me this information.  He knew Chappie James (he was a big man about 6′ and 250 lbs. As well as Benjamin O. Davis personally.  Washington liked to fly the P-47 better than the P-51 for two reasons #1 was that it had eight 50 cal. Machine guns instead of six on the P-51 and #2 was it had a air cooled engine so you would not loose the engine if your cooling system got hit by enemy fire.  The negative for the P-47 was it carried less fuel for long flights.

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