Born in Washington, Benjamin O. Davis Jr. was an army brat whose father set him a challenging example. The elder Davis became a brigadier general in 1940, the U.S. Army’s first black general.

The younger Davis paralleled his father’s illustrious career. He graduated from West Point in 1936 and began his military career at Fort Benning in Georgia. In 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps and took command of the 99th Fighter Squadron, the famous “Tuskegee airmen,” as a lieutenant colonel.

Davis, known for his dignified manner and eloquent speech, became the first black brigadier general in the history of the U.S. Air Force in 1954. In 1965, he rose to the rank of lieutenant general.

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