Born in Yonkers and reared in Harlem, Archer quit NYU in 1941 to enlist in the Army Air Corps. But the official War Department view was that blacks lacked the intelligence, character and leadership to fly in combat.Well done, and thank you.
Undeterred, Archer joined the Tuskegee Airmen, a segregated Air Corps unit that escorted bombers in raids over Africa, the Mediterranean and Europe. Of 112 enemy planes downed by the airmen, five kills were credited to Archer - making him the nation's first black ace pilot.
He retired from the military in 1970, having flown 169 combat missions - three times the typical number for white pilots - and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. Then Archer took his leadership skills and talent for breaking barriers into the business world.
He became one of the few black vice presidents of a major American corporation, at General Foods; oversaw, among other enterprises, Essence Communications and Black Enterprise magazine, and helped create what was then the nation's largest black-owned and -managed company, TLC Beatrice. And then, after retiring in 1987, he founded his own venture capital firm.
Last year, Archer joined fellow Tuskegee Airmen as guests at the inauguration of President Obama. It was a fitting honor for this pioneer, who died Wednesday at age 90.
Friday, February 05, 2010
Some say he was an ace, some say he only shot down 4 - and by the fact that he isn't listed on the American Fighter Aces' list - I think 4 is the right answer.
I won't exaggerate things and call him an ace - but when you add 1 ME-109 and 3 FW-190 along with what he had to do to get there - I think we can allow for a bit of artistic license on some people's part; though really, his record stands by itself unembellished.
In the service of his nation during WWII and his success afterwards, he represents the best of his generation and his nation.
As for me - four kills and the path he took to get there is more than enough for Fullbore Friday.
Last week a great patriot and accomplished American passed.