RIP - Lt. Col. Charles Dryden


Malko In Charge
Staff member
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.



Well-Known Member
I am happy that I have had the chance and still have the oppourtunity to go up a shake their hands every once in a while. They are truly my inspiration and idols.


Well-Known Member
I was very lucky to have met Dryden, it one of the true highlights of my life. He was a great guy with a great sense of humor.

We were in Ft. Lauderdale a couple of years ago and Dryden, along with a dozen or so other Tuskegee Airmen, was a guest of honor at the Air and Sea Show.

As part of the deal, they were given a private tour of the USS San Antonio. As I was helping Dryden into the van on the way to the boat, he looked up and said something along the lines of "Are you sure it's just a tour? I think they might want to send me back into action."


It was an amazing moment when they were greeted by the San Antonio's captain, an African-American. The look on their faces, having gone through so much, was incredible.

They are an amazing bunch and I owe them more than I could ever properly express.


resident denizen
I don't envy many people, but I do envy those great airmen. What a life he lived, a true inspiration.


Staff member
I met him back in 1996 at an OBAP/Tuskegee Airman convention. Rest in peace man.

Probably one of the few stories that'd make me cry like a freaking smitten 17 year old girl.


Well-Known Member
I met him last year and took a picture with him in Tuskegee at the annual Negro Airmen International fly in and conference on Memorial Day weekend. I was brought to tears after hearing his story of their experiences back in the 40s but even though he was brought to tears recounting his story he ended most positively by reminding us that America is a country that he is most proud of because it has the ability to change and I resolved that day to make no excuses about being successful because my circumstances were nothing compared to what they had to endure on their way to becoming WWII heroes.

RIP A-Train

Orange Anchor

New Member
Dryden was one of the TAs that participated in what became known as the Freeman Field Mutiny. For those who don't know the story, it is worth studying.