Lt. Charles Bailey Snr: The fighter pilot who was saved by a Bible in his flight suit (photo)
- Lt. Charles P. Bailey Snr was an American fighter pilot and the first black aviator from Florida to become a Tuskegee Airman
- He made history when he flew America's first corps of black fighter pilots during World War II
- YEN.com.gh throws the spotlight on his life, journey and achievements
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At a time when Jim Crow grounded the dreams of black America, Lt. Charles P. Bailey soared through the skies and made history with America's first corps of black fighter pilots.
Lt. Charles P. Bailey flew during World War II as he bombed foreign targets with the first corps of black fighter pilots and blasted holes in domestic racism.
Bailey's dreams took flight when he met Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, where he attended on a football scholarship.
Bethune had the ear of Eleanor Roosevelt, the first lady and so it was through that Bailey was transferred to Tuskegee.
Eventually, he joined 450 Tuskegee aviators in dogfights over North Africa, Sicily and Europe.
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Flying in a fighter named after his mother, Josephine, Bailey flew 133 combat missions.
According to blackthen.com, once, while flying over the Mediterranean Sea, he was hit with shrapnel. The Bible he carried over his heart in his flight suit pocket absorbed the blast.
Bailey earned an Air Medal with four oak-leaf clusters, awarded for valor in aerial combat.
In May 1945, he added the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 15,553 sorties and 1,578 combat missions, the Tuskegee Airmen downed more than 1,000 enemy aircraft without losing a single fighter.
After the war, Bailey married Bessie Fitch and raised two sons, Charlie Bailey Jr. and James Bailey. Later, he also graduated from the Cincinnati College of Embalming.
In 1995, Bailey was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
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The family relocated to DeLand, Florida where Charles Snr. taught in schools for decades. When he retired from teaching, he opened the Charles P. Bailey Funeral Home in DeLand.
In 2007, a dedication ceremony was held at the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum.
Charles P. Bailey's memorial bust and history can be viewed at 910 Biscayne Boulevard at the DeLand Airport.
For being an epitome of black excellence and his remarkable achievements, a terminal at Punta Gorda’s airport is named after him and the rest of the Fighting Bailey family.
Trailblazer Lt. Charles P. Bailey, Snr. died in 2001.
In other stories, on April 27, 1972, Ghana’s first president, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, died in Bucharest, Romania following six years of exile in Guinea after being deposed through a military coup. Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah led the country to attain independence from British colonial rule.
The great Pan-Africanist died far away from his birthplace of Nkroful at the age of 62. He played an instrumental role in the formation of the African Union (A.U) previously called the Organization of African Unity (O.A.U) and led Ghana to independence in 1957.
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