The first African-American fighter pilot now has a statue at an aviation museum in Georgia

Posted Wednesday, 09 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)His father was born into slavery, but he would live to have a dogfight with German pilots in the skies over Europe. Eugene Bullard, who became known as the Black Swallow of Death, was the first African-American pilot to fly in combat.He now has a statue in his honor, unveiled Wednesday in Warner Robins, Georgia, at the Museum of Aviation next to Robins Air Force Base, and about 100 miles south of Atlanta.His distant cousin, Harriott Bullard White, told CNN she wept with joy as she placed a wreath at the statue during a ceremony, attended by Air Force officers, nearly two dozen family members and several surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen."All my life I'd known how great he was. Of course, no one else knew who he is," White said. "He's an American hero and someone all Americans should know about."An African-American who became a French fighter pilotBorn in Columbus, Georgia, in 1895, Bullard ran away from home as an 11-year-old, wandering the South for years before stowing away on a freight ship destined for Scotland.The next year, 1913, he settled in France. When World War I broke out, Bullard enlisted in the French Foreign Legion, serving first in the infantry.But after being wounded in battle, Bullard made a $2,000 bet with a friend that he could become a military aviator despite his skin color, according to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.He won the bet, receiving his wings as a member of the AĆ©ronautique Militaire in May 1917. That November, he claimed he shot down two German fighters, though accounts vary as to whether those aerial victories could be confirmed.Black military pilots wouldn't become common in America until the famed Tuskegee Airmen began training to fly in 1941. President Harry Truman formally desegregated the entire US armed forces with an executive order in 1948.He was a pioneerFor decades, Bullard was a man apart.After his World War I service, Bullard's life had other brushes with history. He owned an American-style nightclub in Paris' Montmarte district where he would have "rubbed elbows" with expat writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Smithsonian says.White, his distant cousin, told CNN that the poet Langston Hughes worked as a dishwasher in Bullard's nightclub, and that Bullard listed boxing legend Jack Johnson as a reference on his resume.Ernest Hemingway even based a minor character on Bullard in the novel The Sun Also Rises, according to the University of Georgia Press.Returning to America after World War II, Bullard was active in the civil rights movement. During one confrontation, a bus driver ordered him to sit in the back of the bus.In 1959, the French government made him a knight of the Legion of Honor, the nation's highest order and decoration.Though in life Bullard was never allowed to join the US military as an aviator, he was posthumously commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Air Force in 1994."To see the statue, I feel like I've conquered," White said. "He was so deserving. It's never too late to acknowledge his legacy."

Other articles published by CNN

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)As President Donald Trump tours the country holding rallies to support his reelection campaign this fall, he often brags about what the political landscape will look like in January 2021."95% Approval Rating in the Republican Party," he tweeted in...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)A top editor at The Washington Post said Tuesday that a reporter who was suspended for tweets she posted in the immediate aftermath of Kobe Bryant's death had not violated the newspaper's social media policy. The reporter has been...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)Kansas lawmakers are renewing bipartisan efforts to make sexual battery of a spouse illegal. The state House Judiciary Committee on Monday voted to advance HB 2467, a bill that would amend the state's sexual battery law, according to...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)The Justice Department on Tuesday asked a federal judge to shut down a scheme involving companies in New York and Arizona that connect hundreds of millions of robocalls across the country each month. In two first-of-their-kind filings,...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump was sitting for breakfast with American business leaders last week when the conversation turned to the dangerous new virus spreading from China.Some of the assembled chief executives asked how Trump planned to...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Lawmakers in the House approved a bill Tuesday afternoon to update the 2002 Tibetan Policy Act, the latest in a series of congressional moves to strengthen America's stance towards China.The Tibet Policy and Support Act, introduced by Rules...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Three-quarters of registered voters think witnesses should be allowed to testify in the Senate impeachment trial, which has reached a crucial inflection point, a new national poll from Quinnipiac University finds.This includes 49% of Republicans who ...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)An airliner from Wuhan, China, is expected to land in Ontario, California, on Wednesday, filled with US citizens who could possibly be infected with the deadly Wuhan coronavirus. There could be 240 passengers on board, flying in from the very...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)With less than a week to go until Super Bowl LIV, the NFL is dealing with a breach that saw the Twitter accounts for nearly half of the league's teams get hacked.Among the teams affected by the breach, which took place over several hours Monday,...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Law professor Alan Dershowitz, who is a member of President Donald Trump's impeachment defense team, said in 2016 that he believed Trump was more corrupt than Hillary Clinton and more likely to continue being corrupt as president. Dershowitz spoke...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)J. Crew has turned to an executive from another struggling brand, Victoria's Secret, to lead its turnaround. Jan Singer will become J. Crew's new CEO, the company said Tuesday.Singer became Victoria's Secret chief executive in...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)Starbucks has closed more than half of its roughly 4,300 Chinese stores, as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread in the country. The company said Tuesday it is continuing to "monitor and modify the operating hours of all of...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Miami (CNN)This doctor has one of the most important jobs in Super Bowl LIV, but he's not part of the team's medical staff.Instead, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who earned his doctor of medicine degree from McGill University in Canada in 2018, plays right...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Hundreds of people were evacuated from high-rise buildings near downtown Miami after a powerful earthquake in the Caribbean Sea on Tuesday. Several buildings in Miami were shaking Tuesday but no injuries or structural damage has been reported, Miami ...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)A threat that is even more furious than you've seen in eight other films is coming. What, exactly, is that? Michelle Rodriguez doesn't give specifics in the new teaser trailer for "Fast & Furious 9," but it sounds ominous. More details, perhaps, ...