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Airmen Biographies

Lt. Colonel Leo Roger Gray

Leo Roger Gray was born in Boston MA May 30 1924. After graduating from Boston English High School in 1942 Leo enlisted in the Army Air Corp. as a Private. After attending and graduating from Tuskegee Army Air Field Flying School as a 2nd Lieutenant Single Engine Pilot in Class 44-G, he completed combat pilot training at Walterboro Army Air Field, Walterboro S.C.  He was then stationed in Italy with the 100th Fighter Squadron, and the 332nd Fighter Group. Leo flew 15 combat missions over Europe. He received the Air Medal with one oakleaf cluster, a Presidential Unit Citation, the Mediterranean Theater of Operation ribbon with three battle stars, and the American theatre and WWII Victory ribbons. Separated from active duty in 1946. Lt. Colonel Gray retired from the USAF Reserve with 41 years of service. After the war, Leo earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1950 from the University of Massachusetts and a Master of Arts degree in 1952 from the University of Nebraska. While at Nebraska, Leo was inducted into the Gamma Sigma Delta national Agricultural Honor Society.

Bravery & Honor

Master Sergeant Buford A. Johnson

Master Sergeant Buford A. Johnson (born August 30, 1927) was a member  of the famed group of African-American World War II pilots known as the  Tuskegee Airmen. During World War II, he served as the chief mechanic servicing  the fighter planes of the 99th Fighter Squadron of the 477th Composite Group. 

Buford A. Johnson was born in Longview, Texas on August 30, 1927. He was raised in Shiloh, Texas, graduating from the Shiloh High School in 1945.  When Johnson was 18 years old, the U.S. Military drafted him into the U.S.  Navy. At the time, the only tasks that African-American men were allowed to do  in the Navy were menial jobs, which he was not interested in doing. He learned  that volunteering for a three-year tour of duty in the U.S. Army would supersede  the draft orders, so Johnson instead enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in  1945. He became one of the first African-Americans allowed to work on U.S.  fighter aircraft. 

Johnson did his Basic Training at Sheppard Field Texas. Upon graduating,  he was assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron of the 477th Composite Group which  was stationed at Godman Field, Kentucky.  

After World War II, Johnson was stationed at Lockbourne AFB in Ohio and  from there was transferred to Itazuke Air Base in Japan. At Itazuke, his orders  were to support a P-51 Fighter Squadron; his abilities earned him the honor of  being a mechanic on the 80th Fighter Bomber Squadron's first F-80C aircraft. He  became the first African-American to be a jet mechanic in the United States Air  Force, a Crew Chief to work on jet aircraft, and a Crew Chief working on jet  aircraft in a combat zone. 

Johnson was transferred out of the Korean War zone on 19 December 1951  and was assigned a month later to the 6520th Test Support Wing, Air Force  Cambridge Research Center, on the Hanscom AFB in Bedford, Massachusetts as  an Aircraft Maintenance Supervisor in January 1952. He was promoted from  Technical Sergeant to Master Sergeant on 1 April 1953. 

On 25 July 1956, Johnson received orders to transfer to the 50th Fighter Bomber Wing in Toul-Rosieres Air Base in France, where he reported three weeks  later on 15 August 1956. He was assigned to the 417th Fighter Group.On 29  July 1960, Johnson was transferred to the Air Force Test Center at Edwards Air 

Force Base, California. During his time working with the 417th Tactical Fighter  Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, Buford received the Air Force  Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service on 21 December 1962.  

He remained at Edwards Air Force Base until July 1965, at which point he  received orders to transfer to Oxnard Air Force Base, California to take up the  duties of Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Maintenance Control.

Johnson retired in 1966.

Sacrifice & Respect

Sergeant Boyd Taylor

Colonel George S. Roberts

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