Tuskegee Airman Jack Holsclaw

Tuskegee Airman Jack Holsclaw

In his senior year of college, Jack Holsclaw enrolled in the government sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program and earned his pilot’s license. On October 5, 1942, he enlisted in the army as a private. He entered pilot training at Tuskegee Army Airfield as a member of class 43-G-SE. After completing his training, he received his wings becoming a pilot in the United States Army Air Force. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on July 28, 1943. Lieutenant Holsclaw received advanced training at Selfridge Field near Detroit, Michigan. Once this training had been completed, he and his squadron were shipped to Italy in December 1943.

Lieutenant Holsclaw was assigned to the 100th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group. All of the personnel of the 332nd were black.

By now, all of the squadrons of the 332nd were flying P-51 Mustangs. Holsclaw named his favorite P-51 “Bernice Baby” in honor of his wife. 

On July 18, 1944, in an aerial battle over Italy, Holsclaw shot down two German fighters. For this action he received the Distinguished Flying Cross. By December 1944, Holsclaw had completed 68 combat missions. Nearing the limit of 70 missions, he became Assistant Operations Officer, an important administrative position that included aerial mission planning. In January 1945, Holsclaw was promoted to captain.

Captain Holsclaw returned to the United States in June 1945. He was now assigned to serve as assistant base operations officer, at Godman Field, Fort Knox, Kentucky. 

Holsclaw went on to teaching and training duties. He was an instructor at the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs at Tuskegee Institute and then Tennessee State College, Nashville. From May 1962 to the end of 1964 he served as Chief, Training Division, Sixth Air Force Reserve Region, Hamilton Air Force Base, California.  

 On January 1, 1965, Lieutenant Colonel Holsclaw retired. He received the Distinguished Service Medal for his accomplishments in the US Army Air Force and in the US Air Force.