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Henry B. Perry

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Henry B. Perry
File:Henry B. Perry.png Henry B. Perry.png
BornHenry Buford Perry
January 18, 1920
Thomasville, Georgia, US
💀DiedJanuary 1, 1995(1995-01-01) (aged 74)
Kansas City, Missouri, USJanuary 1, 1995(1995-01-01) (aged 74)
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery
🏳️ Nationality
"Herky"
💼 Occupation
  • Military officer
  • fighter pilot
📆 Years active  1942–1970

Henry Buford "Herky" Perry (January 18, 1920 - January 1, 1995) was an U.S. Army Air Force/U.S. Air Force officer and one of the most decorated combat fighter pilot with the prodigious 332nd Fighter Group's 99th Fighter Squadron, best known as the Tuskegee Airmen, "Red Tails," or “Schwartze Vogelmenschen” ("Black Birdmen") among enemy German pilots.[1] He was one of 1,007 documented Tuskegee Airmen Pilots.[2] Perry earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for aerial action on 18 July 1944, and the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters.[3][4]

Perry is best known as the U.S. Air Force's first African American jet pilot, as well as the U.S. Air Force's first African American jet instructor, sharing these two honors with three other African American officers all assigned together.[5] He was also one of the first African American pilots from Thomasville, Georgia.[6]

Early Life, Family[edit]

Perry, was born in Columbia, South Carolina.[7][8] Raised in Thomasville, Georgia, Perry was the son of Mary A. Jackson Perry (6 Feb 1883 - 21 Dec 1961) and Reverend Robert N Perry Sr. (6 Dec 1881 - 7 Jun 1971), Vicar at Thomasville, Georgia's Good Shepard Episcopal Church and the Parochial School. In addition to Perry, Robert and Mary had four other children: William Montgomery Perry (1909–1951), Alice Perry Hayes (1911–1990), John Richard Logan Perry (1914–1992), and Frank Hargrave Perry (1916–2005). Perry's brother, John, was the first African American to serve on the Virginia Beach, Virginia City Council.[9]

In 1937, Perry graduated from Thomasville, Georgia's Douglas High School.[10] In 1941, he graduated from St. Augustine's University (North Carolina) in Raleigh, North Carolina.[7]

Perry was married to Harlene Anderson Perry (August 17, 19?? - July 12, 2008), a teacher/librarian, University of Kansas and Lincoln University alumni/1951 Homecoming Queen, and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.[11] They had one daughter, Lisa Perry-Gilkes, and two grandsons.[12]

Perry was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.[7]

Military Service[edit]

In 1942, Perry volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Corps.[7] On September 6, 1942, Deiz graduated from the Tuskegee Flight School's Single Engine Section Class SE-42-H, earning his wings and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.[13] The U.S. Army Air Corps assigned Perry to the 99th Fighter Squadron.[14] He was included in the initial cadre of pilots to join the 99th Fighter Squadron in Licata, Sicily.

He flew Curtis P-40 Warhawks including one which had been sponsored by the Loyalty Committee of Victims of Nazi-Fascist Oppression organised by Aufbau and Jewish organizations in New York which Perry addressed in person. [15]

During World War II, Perry flew 102 combat missions in the European Theater and Mediterranean.[7][16] The U.S. Army Air Corps credited Perry with 2.5 aerial kills.[17] He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for aerial action on 18 July 1944, and the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters.[18][19]

After World War II, Perry continued to serve as a combat fighter pilot. In 1949, the U.S. Air Force transferred Perry and three other African American officers to Arizona's Williams AFB to train jet pilots. Perry, Vernon V. Haywood, Lewis Lench, and John L. Whitehead Jr. ("Mr. Death") became the U.S. Air Force's first African American jet instructors.[20]

Perry also served as the Alaskan Air Commander, a Commander and Deputy Wing Commander, and Command Staff Operations Officer. Later, Perry became Tuskegee Air Force Field's Director of Single Engine Advanced Training and its Air ROTC instructor.[21] He also served as a flight instructor and Director of Training and Analysis at Williams Field in Arizona.[22] After serving as the Director of the Combat Operations Center, Perry retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of Colonel after 28 years in the military.[23]

Commendations, Awards[edit]

  • Distinguished Flying Cross
  • Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Air Force Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Army Commendation Medal

Death[edit]

Perry passed away on January 1, 1995, in Kansas City, Missouri after a lengthy illness.[7] Fellow Tuskegee Airman, Charles E. McGee, served as an active pallbearer.[7] He was interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 3, Site 4603-A, in Arlington, Virginia. His wife was inurned at his gravesite.[24]

See also[edit]


Other articles of the topics Biography AND Aviation : Pier Paolo Racchetti, Leon C. “Derailer” Roberts, Reginald V. Smith, Richard C. Caesar, Alberto Nassetti, Mac Ross, Terry J. Charlton, Jr

Other articles of the topic Biography : Edwin Perez (singer), Del Delker, Alexander McCormick Jr., Ummi Hafilda Ali, Eugene A. Greene, Olivia O'Lovely, Gabrielle Ryan

Other articles of the topic Aviation : Qatar Airways Flight 962, 2019 Boeing 737 MAX crisis, Skybridge AirOps, Ryanair Flight 4102, United Airlines Flight 1175, 2021 Lomonosovsky light planes mid-air collision, Perla Airlines
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  • Executive Order 9981
  • List of Tuskegee Airmen
  • List of Tuskegee Airmen Cadet Pilot Graduation Classes
  • Military history of African Americans

References[edit]

  1. Click. "All-Negro Fighter Squadron Ready for Action: They're Smart, Tough and Rarin' to Go. Meet the Flying Black Panthers." Volume 6, Number 9http://www.oldmagazinearticles.com/draw_pdf.php?filename=Tuskegee_Fighter_Pilots.pdf
  2. "Tuskegee Airmen Pilot Roster". CAF Rise Above. CAF Rise Above. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  3. MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN: "TABLE XII: CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF TUSKEGEE AIRMEN DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS WINNERS, BY DATE OF THE ACTION FOR WHICH EACH DFC WAS AWARDED." Dr. Daniel L. Haulman, Air Force Historical Research Agency. 9 August 2016. https://www.afhra.af.mil/Portals/16/documents/Timelines/World%20War%20II/Misconceptions_About_the_Tuskegee_Airmen.pdf?ver=2016-09-02-115550-823
  4. Ramitelli Airfield Historical Society.
  5. University of Arizona. "Colonel Vernon Haywood: Summary of a 1989 oral history." Carolyn Daniels. 1996. https://parentseyes.arizona.edu/node/302
  6. Jack Hadley Black History Museum. "SOUTHWEST GEORGIA BLACK HISTORY LEGENDS." https://jackhadleyblackhistorymuseum.com/sw-ga-black-history-legends/
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Celebration of Life Obituary: Henry Buford Perry. https://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/zhu/funprg/pdfs/funprgperryhenrybufordltcolonelkc.pdf
  8. Black Then. "Henry B. Perry." JAE JONES. JUNE 2, 2018. https://blackthen.com/henry-b-herky-perry-tuskegee-airman-jet-instructor-fighter-school/
  9. The Daily Press. "JOHN L. PERRY, 1ST BLACK ON BEACH COUNCIL." https://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-xpm-19920201-1992-02-01-9202010062-story.html
  10. Jack Hadley Black History Museum. "SOUTHWEST GEORGIA BLACK HISTORY LEGENDS." https://jackhadleyblackhistorymuseum.com/sw-ga-black-history-legends/
  11. Kansas City Star. "Harlene Perry." https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/kansascity/name/harlene-perry-obituary?id=4350563
  12. Kansas City Star. "Harlene Perry." https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/kansascity/name/harlene-perry-obituary?id=4350563
  13. CAF Rise Above. "Tuskegee Airmen Pilot Roster." https://cafriseabove.org/the-tuskegee-airmen/tuskegee-airmen-pilot-roster/ . This data derives from Caf Rise Above's research project compiling data from Tuskegee Airmen historians including the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
  14. CAF Rise Above. "Robert W. Deiz." https://cafriseabove.org/robert-w-deiz/
  15. Schrag, Peter (2019-03-19). The World of Aufbau: Hitler's Refugees in America. University of Wisconsin Pres. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-299-32020-1. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  16. Ramitelli Airfield Historical Society.
  17. Ramitelli Airfield Historical Society.
  18. MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN: "TABLE XII: CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF TUSKEGEE AIRMEN DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS WINNERS, BY DATE OF THE ACTION FOR WHICH EACH DFC WAS AWARDED." Dr. Daniel L. Haulman, Air Force Historical Research Agency. 9 August 2016. https://www.afhra.af.mil/Portals/16/documents/Timelines/World%20War%20II/Misconceptions_About_the_Tuskegee_Airmen.pdf?ver=2016-09-02-115550-823
  19. Ramitelli Airfield Historical Society.
  20. University of Arizona. "Colonel Vernon Haywood: Summary of a 1989 oral history." Carolyn Daniels. 1996. https://parentseyes.arizona.edu/node/302
  21. Black Then. "Henry B. Perry." JAE JONES. JUNE 2, 2018. https://blackthen.com/henry-b-herky-perry-tuskegee-airman-jet-instructor-fighter-school/
  22. Black Then. "Henry B. Perry." JAE JONES. JUNE 2, 2018. https://blackthen.com/henry-b-herky-perry-tuskegee-airman-jet-instructor-fighter-school/
  23. Ramitelli Airfield Historical Society.
  24. Kansas City Star. "Harlene Perry." https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/kansascity/name/harlene-perry-obituary?id=4350563


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