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Title:William O. Smith's interview for the Veterans History Project at Atlanta History Center
Duration:01:48:17
Viewed:1,589
Published:22-03-2022
Source:Youtube

We welcome your comments on this interview at VeteransHistoryProject@AtlantaHistoryCenter.com Catalog number: VIS 201.0740 In this interview, W. O. Smith recalls his 20-year career in the United States Air Force. He remembers growing up in Cincinnati, the son of a World War II Navy veteran. He describes his schooling and participation in sports. He remembers a Cincinnati businessman, Ted Berry, who successfully defended members of the Tuskegee Airmen who were court-martialed for protesting segregated officers' quarters during World War II. He describes his reasons for joining the Air Force and describes his early training and assignments. He remembers an incident when he found a cross on his barracks bed and "KKK" scrawled across his mirror in shoe polish and explains the difficulties Black servicemembers had getting promoted. He recalls subsequent assignments to Spain and Germany and reflects on the lack of racial discrimination he experienced in Europe compared to the United States. He remembers meeting General "Chappie" James (Daniel James Jr.) and describes how their paths crossed again later in his career. He recalls a later recruiting assignment in Atlanta, Georgia, and how he became Rookie Recruiter of the Year. He remembers being promoted to Master Sergeant and describes his last assignment at Charleston Air Force Station in Maine. He describes his post-military education and careers and how he became a part of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. He reflects on his family and his military service. This interview was conducted by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Atlanta Branch.

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