Tuskegee Airman Alton Ballard
Tuskegee Airman Alton Ballard was a fighter pilot with the famous 332nd fighter Group – the “Red Tails”.
In 1942, Alton Ballard was a new cadet in class 43-H-SE at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama. In primary training, he had instruction flying PT-17 Stearman biplanes. He and the class then moved into flying the BT-13 for basic training. Then, for advanced training, they flew the AT-6 Texan. His class graduated from flight training in 1943 and received their “wings”.
Alton was now an officer in the US Army Air Force with the rank of second lieutenant. He was deployed overseas in December 1943 to Ramitelli, Italy as a pilot in the 332nd Fighter Group. The 332nd was flying P-51 Mustangs.
He flew 89 combat missions. Most of these missions were to protect the bombers from the Italian and German fighters, a mission that the 332nd did exceptionally well.
The P-51 Mustang that he was flying was the perfect aircraft for the roll of bomber protection. In the hands of a well trained pilot, it was quite maneuverable. With the addition of “drop tanks” underneath its wings, it had exceptionally long combat range. It was quite fast, packed allot of fire power and was pretty tuff. For the combat missions that he flew in the P-51, he was awarded an Air Medal for meritorious achievement the the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Ballard returned to Tuskegee Air Base as a flight instructor, eventually retiring from the United States Air Force with the rank of captain.
Tuskegee Airman Alton Ballard died in Los Angeles at the age of 94.