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Mac Ross

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Captain
Mac Ross
File:Mac Ross.webp Mac Ross.webp
Saluting Major James Ellison, commander of the Tuskegee Army Airfield. The aircraft are Vultee BT-13 Valiants.
BornMac Ross
June 7, 1916
Selma, Alabama, US
💀DiedJuly 10, 1944(1944-07-10) (aged 28)
Provincia di Foggia, Puglia, ItalyJuly 10, 1944(1944-07-10) (aged 28)
Resting placeSicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial, Plot J, Row 15, Grave 70
🏳️ Nationality
🎓 Alma materWest Virginia State University
💼 Occupation
  • Military officer
  • fighter pilot
📆 Years active  1941–1944

Mac Ross (June 7, 1916 - July 10, 1944) was an U.S. Army Air Force officer, combat fighter pilot, 100th Fighter Squadron's Squadron Commander, and the 332nd Fighter Group's Group Operations Officer of the Tuskegee Airmen, "Red Tails," or “Schwartze Vogelmenschen” ("Black Birdmen") among enemy German pilots.[1]

Ross was the first African American combat fighter pilot in history, sharing this honor with his four Tuskegee aviation cadet classmates: U.S. Air Force General Benjamin O. Davis Jr., Charles DeBow Jr., Lemuel R. Custis, and George S. Roberts (best known as "Spanky" Roberts).[1][2][3] [4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Early Life, Family, Education[edit]

Ross was born on June 7, 1916 in Selma, Alabama.[1][12] He was the son of father Eddie Samuel "Sam" Ross (1888–1964) and mother Willie B. Collins Ross (1888–1982), both of Selma. Sam and Willie married in 1911. Ross had several siblings including Eddie Ross, Sammy "Sam" Ross (1914–1984), Jerry Ross (1915–1982), Arthur Ross (1925–2005), Suritha Ross Brooks, Geniva Ross Chinn (April 5, 1927 - December 26, 2011), Mattie M. Ross (1910–1943), and Willa Ross Morgan.[13]

As a young man, Ross and his family moved to Dayton, Ohio where his sister Geniva was born.[12]

After high school, Ross attended West Virginia State University, graduating in 1940.[14][15] Prior to enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps, Ross worked as an inspector at an iron works in Ohio.[16]

In 1943, Ross married Abbie Voorhies (born August 20, 1915), a U.S. Army lieutenant and member of the Army Nurses Corps from Moreauville, Louisiana and Alexandria, Louisiana.[17] They met after Abbie transferred to Tuskegee's base hospital.[17] A few months after their marriage, Ross deployed overseas.[17]

Military Service, Tuskegee Airmen[edit]

Ross' alma mater, West Virginia State College (now West Virginia State University) graduated several civil aviation classes from its own civil pilots program.[14] School officials actively competed with Tuskegee and four other historically black colleges and universities to institute a commercial pilot’s program for African American civil pilot graduates. In the end, the federal government selected Tuskegee Institute as the official commercial pilot program for African Americans civil pilot graduates.[14] West Virginia State College and the other four historically black colleges and universities would serve as feeder schools.[14]

West Virginia State College officials nominated two alumni for the program: Ross (a 1940 West Virginia State College graduate) and George S. Roberts, a 1938 West Virginia State College graduate .[14] Though passed over for pilot training several times, Ross was admitted into the U.S. Army Air Corps Tuskegee Aviation Cadet training program's inaugural July 19, 41 single-engine 42-C-SE Class at Tuskegee Army Air Field.[1]

During cadet training, Ross bailed out of his P-40 training aircraft, making him the first ever African American member of the Caterpillar Club, an informal association of people who have successfully used a parachute to bail out of a disabled aircraft.[18] Nonetheless, on March 7, 1942,[19] only five cadets graduated from the program, receiving their wings: 2nd Lt. Ross, Captain Benjamin O. Davis Jr., 2nd Lt. Charles DeBow Jr., 2nd Lt. Lemuel R. Custis, and 2nd Lt. George S. Roberts ("Spanky" Roberts).[2][20] The day after graduation, Ross served as Roberts' best man at Roberts' wedding to Edith Norle McMillan Roberts (1919–2015). Class 42-C-SE created America's first African-American U.S. Army Air Corps pilots.[1]

On May 26, 1942, Ross became the Squadron Commander of the 332nd Fighter Group's 100th fighter squadron, with Lt George Knox and SE-42-A classmate Charles DeBow serving as his adjutants.[1]

In July 1942, Ross became the 332nd Fighter Group's Group Operations Officer.[1] On March 27, 1943, his squadron transferred to Selfridge Field in Mt Clements, Michigan.[1] During World War II, Ross flew over 50 combat missions in the European Theater.[1]

Unit Assignments[edit]

  • 1941–1942, AAF MOS 770, Aviation Cadet Flight School, Tuskegee AAF[12]
  • 1942–1944, AAF MOS 1055, 99th Fighter Squadron, AL, French Morocco, Tunisia, Italy[12]
  • 1943–1943, AAF MOS 1055, 33rd Fighter Group, Qued N'ja, French Morocco; Fardjouna, Tunisia[12]
  • 1943–1943, AAF MOS 1055, 324th Fighter Group, Fardjouna Airfield[12]
  • 1943–1943, AAF MOS 1055, 33rd Fighter Group, Licata, Termini, & Barcellona Airfields, Sicily[12]
  • 1943–1944, AAF MOS 1055, 79th Fighter Group, Salsola, Madna, & Capodichino Airfields[12]
  • 1944–1944, AAF MOS 1055, 324th Fighter Group, Cercola & Pignataro Airfields[12]
  • 1944–1944, AAF MOS 1055, 332nd Fighter Group, Ciampino, Orbetello, & Ramitelli Airfields[12]

Major Campaigns[edit]

  • 1941–1944, World War II[12]
  • 1943–1943, Operation Strangle[12]
  • 1943–1943, Sicily Campaign (1943)[12]
  • 1943–1944, Naples-Foggia Campaign (1943-44)[12]
  • 1944–1944, Anzio Campaign (1944)[12]
  • 1944–1944, Rome-Arno Campaign (1944)[12]
  • 1944–1944, Normandy Campaign (1944)[12]

Awards[edit]

  • Distinguished Flying Cross (United States)[12]
  • Legion of Merit[12]
  • Purple Heart[12]

Death, Wife's Remarriage[edit]

On July 10, 1944, Ross was killed near Provincia di Foggia, Puglia, Italy while on a local transition flight during his squadron’s conversion from P-40 to P-51 aircraft.[21] Ross's newly-acquired P-51 Mustang suffered mechanical failure, nosediving into the ground.[22] Ross was interred at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial, Plot J, Row 15, Grave 70, near Nettuno, Città Metropolitana di Roma Capitale, Lazio, Italy.[1]

Back in American, Ross's wife, Abbie Voorhies Ross, received a home visit from men in uniforms who informed her that her husband had been killed.[17] After World War II, Abbie transferred to Columbus, Ohio's Lockbourne Air Force Base. After leaving the U.S. Army June 30, 1947 with the rank of Captain, Abbie eventually settled in Los Angeles in 1950, marrying Melvin DeVerges. They raised two sons: Ronald DeVerges and Donald DeVerges. As of 2019, Abbie Voorhies Ross DeVerges, a centenarian, lives in Northridge, California.[17][23]

Legacy[edit]

  • On June 27, 1989, the U.S. Postal Service dedicated its Dayton, Ohio's Mac Ross Memorial Philatelic Room in honor of Ross. A plaque honoring Ross is displayed at the Dayton Post Office on East 5th Street.[24]
  • In 2000, the city of Selma, Alabama honored Ross Ross with a resolution honoring his service and sacrifice.[1]

The University of California Riverside maintains the papers of Ross's wife Abbie. The collection comprises photographs of Ross, Abbie and other Tuskegee Airmen and nurses, Abbie's military separation records, correspondence, news clippings, and items from a dedication of a philatelic room to Ross.[25]

See also[edit]


Other articles of the topics Biography AND Aviation : Henry B. Perry, Sidney P. Brooks, Richard C. Caesar, Reginald V. Smith, Alberto Nassetti, Terry J. Charlton, Jr, Pier Paolo Racchetti

Other articles of the topic Biography : Ruger (singer), Beth Stomps, Alexis Marcou, Charles Edward Maple, Jodie Foster, Frances M. Vega, Merritt E. Cornell

Other articles of the topic Aviation : Four Winds Airport, 2021 Arizona Swearingen SA226-T(B) Merlin IIIB crash, Baracuda Airways, Perla Airlines, Alim Airlines, Seletar Flying Club, Astral Airways
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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. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 CAF Rise Above. "Mac Ross." https://cafriseabove.org/mac-ross/
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Air Force Historical Support Division > Home" (PDF). Retrieved 7 February 2017
  3. "Tuskegee Airmen Pilot Roster". CAF Rise Above. CAF Rise Above. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  4. Francis, Charles E. (2008) [1997]. Adolph Caso, ed. The Tuskegee Airmen: The Men who Changed a Nation (Hardcover) (5th with class pictures ed.). Branden Books. pp. 9, 36, 99, 117, 355, 363, 411, 474, 547. ISBN 9780828320290. ISBN 0828320292. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  5. Cooper, Charlie; Cooper, Ann (1996). Tuskegee's Heroes. United States: Zenith Imprint. p. 84. ISBN 9781610607605. ISBN 1610607600. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  6. Moton Field/Tuskegee Airmen Special Resources Study. United States: National Park Service. Southeast Regional Office. 1998. pp. 89, 99, 111. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  7. Stentiford, Barry M. (2012). Tuskegee Airmen (Hardcover). ABC-CLIO. p. 45. ISBN 9780313386848. ISBN 0313386846. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  8. Gatling, James Edward (December 2011). Building of A Nation (Paperback). iUniverse. p. 89. ISBN 9781450209410. ISBN1450209416. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  9. Moye, J. Todd (February 16, 2012). Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II (Paperback). Oxford University Press USA. pp. iv, 37, 58, 196, 239, 247. ISBN 9780199896554. ISBN 0199896550. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  10. Finkelman, Paul (2009). Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: J-N. II. Oxford University Press. p. 487. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  11. House Approves Medal for Tuskeegee Airmen. Jet. 109. March 20, 2006. p. 13. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 12.11 12.12 12.13 12.14 12.15 12.16 12.17 12.18 12.19 U.S. Air Force - Together We Served. "Roll of Honor-U.S. Air Force - Deceased -Ross, Mac, Capt-USAAF Veteran."https://airforce.togetherweserved.com/usaf/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=171792
  13. Legacy. "Eddie Ross." https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/dayton/name/eddie-ross-obituary?pid=186121472
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 West Virginia State University. "CHAPTERS FROM OUR HISTORY EXPLORING OUR PAST. West Virginia State University’s Aviation Program and Its Contribution to the Tuskegee Airmen." Charles T. Ledbetter, Ph.D., WVSU Professor of Education, Retired (Lt. Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired). https://wvstateu.edu/about/history-and-traditions/chapters-from-our-history.aspx#
  15. West Virginia Department of Education. "Tuskegee Airmen From W.Va. To Be Honored During Black History Month. January 31, 2007. https://wvde.state.wv.us/news/1347/
  16. Tuskegee Museum. "Civilian Pilot Training Program." https://www.tuskegeemuseum.org/civilian-pilot-training/
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 CAF Rise Above. "Celebrating Tuskegee Nurse Abbie Voorhies Ross DeVerges!" https://cafriseabove.org/celebrating-tuskegee-nurse-abbie-voorhies-ross-deverges/
  18. Caf Rise Above. "Mac Ross." https://cafriseabove.org/mac-ross/
  19. Some records show March 6, 1942.
  20. "TUSKEGEE AIRMEN CHRONOLOGY." DANIEL L. HAULMAN. ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY BRANCH. AIR FORCE HISTORICAL RESEARCH AGENCY. MAXWELL AFB, AL 36112-6424. 14 November 2011. https://www.tuskegee.edu/Content/Uploads/Tuskegee/files/TUSKEGEE_AIRMEN_CHRONOLOGY12.2011.pdf
  21. Tuskegee Army Nurses. "Abbie Voorhies." http://www.tuskegeearmynurses.info/2019/06/25/abbie-voorhies/
  22. Honor States. "Mac Ross." https://www.honorstates.org/index.php?id=323463
  23. Avoyelles Today. "104-YEAR-OLD MOREAUVILLE NATIVE ABBIE DEVERGES IS OLDEST MEMBER OF FAMED WWII TUSKEGEE AIRMEN. MILLIE TANNER-LATHAM. August 24, 2019. https://www.avoyellestoday.com/news/104-year-old-moreauville-native-abbie-deverges-oldest-member-famed-wwii-tuskegee-airmen
  24. Dayton Daily News. "Area’s black WWII pilots part of Tuskegee Airmen legacy." Kelli Wynn. April 28, 2012. https://www.daytondailynews.com/lifestyles/area-black-wwii-pilots-part-tuskegee-airmen-legacy/1PXzAGdwWw1V2yRI0getoN/
  25. Online Archive of California. "Abbie Voorhies DeVerges papers." https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c86h4ph2/entire_text/


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