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PHOENIXVILLE - Seventy years ...
PHOENIXVILLE - Seventy years ago, "Coach" Roscoe Draper and Major John Harrison could not have imagined they'd be the revered guests of Phoenixville Area High School in a presentation honoring history's Tuskegee Airmen.
Seventy years ago, Draper and Harrison were being rejected at almost every turn.
Harrison related a story of his time at an airfield in Michigan where he and his fellow Tuskegee officers were turned away from the officer's club, a place where even German prisoners of war were allowed in.
Draper only wanted to serve his country.
But when he tried enlisting in the Army Air Corps, the recruiters turned him away.
In Tuesday's program, Draper and Harrison were joined by Aaron Watkins, a "second generation" Tuskegee Airman who flew a Chinook helicopter in the Vietnam War.
Harrison was one of the 992 cadets who received their wings and Draper
was one of the civilian pilot instructors who took part in what was called the "Tuskegee Experiment" during World War II.
was initially turned down by the Army Air Corps
tried enlisting in the late 1930s.
Instead of abandoning his hope to fly, Draper trained through the Civilian Pilot Training Program in 1939.
Draper became an instructor by 1942 and came to Tuskegee, teaching many of the pilots, including ace Lee Archer, who would go on to shoot down or damage 409 enemy aircraft as part of the 332nd Fighter Group.
After the war, Draper worked for the U.S. Postal Service and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Currently, there is a room in the Philadelphia Inernational Airport named after him.
"I'm happy to be a part of the experience of the Tuskegee Airmen, and I'm proud to say that I was a part of it," Draper
took hope from the diverse crowd in the auditorium with him.
"I feel honored to be a part of history," Draper
Roscoe Draper Chapter, BPA Inc.
"Coach" Roscoe Draper
Born in Haverford, PA on May 14, 1919, Roscoe Draper grew up in Haverford and Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania.
He graduated with honors from Haverford High School and continued his education at the Hampton Institute (later became Hampton University).
After enrolling in the civil pilot training program in 1939, Roscoe
Private Pilot license in 1940.
was one of two men selected for the secondary course at the Tuskegee Institute (later became Tuskegee University) and completed his
pilot training in 1942.
He was one of the first ten men of color selected to serve as flight instructor for the Army Air Corps "Tuskegee Experiment".
He taught Army Air Corps cadets in the primary phase of their flight training at Moton Field, Tuskegee, AL (from 1942 to 1946) and he also served on the academic board for the Tuskegee Institute.
was affectionately given the nickname "Coach" by his
flight students because it described his
Aero Club of PA -- Home
Roscoe Draper Following the board meeting at 6PM on October 23 at the Pennsylvania Aviation Country Club at Wings Field, Roscoe Draper, WWII flight instructor for the Army Air Corps "Tuskegee Airmen" will join us for dinner.He taught Air Corps cadets in the primary phase of their flight training at Moton Field, Tuskegee, AL (from 1942 to 1946).At age 89, Mr. Draper is still active in aviation, including involvement in the Roscoe Draper Chapter of the Black Pilots of America.
HeraldNet: Museum of Flight will be busy all May
Robert Ashby, USAF (Ret.) served in Japan, Korea and England; Capt. Claude Platte, USAF (Ret.) was the first African-American officer to be trained and commissioned in the newly reopened Air Force pilot training program at Randolph Field Air Force Base in Texas; and Roscoe Draper was employed by the Tuskegee Institute as a civilian flight instructor for the Army Air Corps to teach flight and ground school courses from 1942 to 1945.