Malko In Charge
One of the first of Tuskegee pioneering pilots dies at 87
Last update: June 26, 2008 - 8:43 PM
ATLANTA, GA. - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden, one of the first of the pioneering black World War II pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen, has died. He was 87.
Dryden died Tuesday in Atlanta of natural causes, said Roger Neal, a spokesman for the National Museum of Patriotism in Atlanta. Dryden was on the museum's board of directors.
Dryden's 21-year military career included combat missions in Korea and assignments in Japan, Germany and U.S. bases. He retired from the Air Force in 1962.
About 1,000 pilots trained as a segregated Army Air Corps unit at the Tuskegee Army Flying School in Alabama during World War II.
Dryden was selected for training at Tuskegee in August 1941, only a month after the program began and four months before the United States entered World War II.
He was one of three men commissioned in April 1942 as a second lieutenant. Just five pilots had earned their wings in the program ahead of Dryden's class of three.
Dryden was a member of the famed 99th Pursuit Squadron and later the 332nd Fighter Group, which served in North Africa and Italy.