Member Of The Last Living Tuskegee Airmen Just Received His Honorary Doctorate
One of the last living members of the Tuskegee Airmen was honored with a doctorate from Norwich University.
Brig. Gen. Enoch Woody Woodhouse, Jr., 96, was recognized for his service as a finance officer for the Tuskegee Airmen during the April 29 commencement ceremony in Northfield, Vermont.
“I had the most important job on base,” Woodhouse told Boston University Alumni Magazine.
“You didn’t write checks out; you paid in cash. Everybody knew me.”
Woodhouse enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps in 1944.
“Blacks were told, and it was publicized, that they lacked intelligence,” Woodhouse said.
“We were thought to be skilled for and were utilized only in support positions. That means truck drivers, laundry people, and oil fillers for airplanes. Even though we were trained in basic training, when we got into the Army, we were all relegated to service functions.”
During World War II, the U.S. was in desperate need of pilots. Under the Civilian Pilot Training Program, the U.S. partnered with several colleges and flight schools to train college students to become aviators. Initially, Blacks were not allowed to train to become pilots. However, in 1940, President Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act into law, a bill that ended discrimination in the Army but not segregation.
Tuskegee University, the famed university founded by Booker T. Washington, was chosen as the pilot training site because of its proximity to surrounding flight schools. The Tuskegee Airmen Pilot Program graduated its first class of five in 1942.
However, Woodhouse never became an airman. After passing the flight training exams, the U.S. Army terminated the program, Woodhouse recalled.
Norwich University is the oldest private military university in the U.S., as well as the original home of ROTC, and the alma mater of Harold “Doc” Martin, another Tuskegee Airmen and the first African American to enroll in Norwich University.
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