George “Spanky” Roberts

Tuskegee Airman George “Spanky” Roberts

Tuskegee Airman George “Spanky” Roberts had already received his pilot’s license in the Civilian Pilot Training Program when he entered flight training in the first class at Tuskegee, Alabama.  It was July of 1941 and the US Army wasn’t convinced that young black men would make good military pilots. There were 13 of them in the first class and only 5 made it to the end and became US Army Air Corps fighter pilots. George Roberts was one of those five. 

The 99th Fighter Squadron was formed with the five new pilots being the initial pilots. This was to be an all black squadron from top to bottom.

They were now flying P-40 Warhawks in preparation to go to war. As additional Tuskegee cadets graduated into being USAAF pilots, they all were assigned to the 99th until it was finally at full strength. George Roberts became their commanding officer.

George Roberts and the rest of the 99th were deployed to North Africa. They were attached to the 33rd Fighter Group that was based close to Morocco. They flew their first combat on June 2, 1943. 

In February, 1944, the 332 Fighter Group, all Tuskegee trained pilots deployed to Italy. The 99th FS joined them. An air base was built for the group at Ramitelli, Italy. This is where the “Tuskegee Airmen” really made a name for themselves flying their P-51 Mustangs. Benjamin O. Davis was the CO of the 332nd, but on the occasion when he needs to go back to the US, George Roberts would step in to be the Commanding Officer of the 332nd.

He ended the war with over 100 combat missions flown. He also served in Korea and ended his military career in 1968 with over 6,000 hour of flight time and the rank of Colonel.