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September 1, 1975 – General Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. Receives Four Stars

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General Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. became the first African American to receive the rank of four-star general in the United States military on September 1, 1975.

James graduated from Tuskegee University in 1942 and received civilian pilot training. During WW II he trained pilots at Tuskegee at the Army Air Corps for the all-African American 99th Pursuit Squadron. Later in the Korean War, James would fly in 101 combat missions.


He returned to the United States in 1951 and assumed various leadership roles in the United States Air Force. In the Vietnam War, he would fly 78 missions into North Vietnam and would lead a flight in which (seven) Communist MiG -21’s were destroyed. That is the highest number of Communist MiG -21’s that were destroyed during any mission of the Vietnam War.


James was promoted to a four-star general on September 1, 1975 and assigned commander in chief of NORAD/ADCOM at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. He would go on to serve as special assistant to the Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force. James was born on February 11, 1920 in Pensacola, Florida and died on February 25, 1978 in Colorado Springs, Colorado at age 58.

Secretary of Defense Harold Brown and General Daniel “Chappie” James visit with President Jimmy Carter.


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