Military Wiki
Oliver Goodall
Born (1922-05-28)May 28, 1922
Died October 30, 2010(2010-10-30) (aged 88)
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force
Unit 477th Bombardment Group
Battles/wars World War II

Oliver Goodall (May 28, 1922 – October 30, 2010)[1] was one of the Tuskegee Airmen. He was involved in the Freeman Field Mutiny, and he was active member in the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.

Goodall attended the University of Detroit.

He joined the Tuskegee airmen in Pasadena. Although Goodall was a Tuskegee Airmen, he did most of his training at Selfridge Field with the rest of the 477th medium bomber group.

As an African American he faced a lot of racism. He overcame this to become a pilot. After his training he was assigned to the 477th Bombardment Group. It was at that Group that the mutiny occurred.

The Freeman Field mutiny was a culmination of many events that were caused by racism. The first was the switch from the 477th home base to a much smaller and less well-equipped base. The second being the racist commander not allowing blacks and whites to talk to each other, and the third not allowing the black officer into the officer club. This then led to 162 black officers walking into the club and then being arrested. Eventually they were acquitted.

The 477th was activated on January 15, 1944 at Selfridge Army Air Field, Michigan, about 40 miles (65 km) from Detroit(477 bomber group). This base now has a 9,000 foot (2,770 m) runway but this was not always so. This base was opened on July 1, 1917 on 640 acres (2.6 km2) that were leased by the Army for $190,000 from Henry B. Joy, the president of the Packard Motor Company. The Field was named after Lt. Thomas Selfridge, the first military officer to die in an aviation accident. he died while flying with Orville Wright at Fort Myer, Virginia onSeptember 17, 1908. After World War II the base expanded to its present size of 3,600 acres (15 km2) and now the base is controlled by Michigan Air National Guard However, for a short time the base was home to the 477th.

The B25

The 477th was a medium bomber group, and like most medium bomber groups of their day they flew the B-25 Mitchell. The B-25 is a twin engine medium bomber that was manufactured by North American Aviation. North American Aviation Inc. was founded on December 6, 1928 by Clement Keys as a holding company that bought and sold interests in various airlines and aviation-relation companies. However, the Air Mail Act of 1934 forced the breakup of such companies. So in order to continue business North American Aviation started building planes for the war effort. North American Aviation was responsible for a number of historic aircraft like the P-51 Mustang, F-86 Sabre Jet, the Apollo Command and Service Module as well as the B-25. Despite all of this company’s glory, North American Aviation was bought out in December 1996 by Boeing. Although this company no longer exists North American Aviation was responsible for many of our countries greatest aircraft.

The B-25 was a major factor throughout World War II. In both the Pacific and the European theater the B-25 was used to great effect. Throughout history the B-25’s are famous for two main things:

  • The first is the famous Doolittle Raid. These Raids took place during April 1942. These raids were led by the legendary LT. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, who took of from the carrier USS Hornet and successfully bombed Tokyo and four other Japanese cities. However 15 of the 16 planes crash landed in Eastern China due to lack of fuel.
  • The other incident is more infamous than famous. This event occurred on Saturday, July 28, 1945 at 9:49 a.m. This is when a B-25 was flying through thick fog and then crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building.This crash happened between the 79th and 80th floor and was responsible for the lives of fourteen people. However this event led to one of the more famous survival stories. This occurred when an elevator’s cables snapped at the 75th floor and the elevator operator plunged over a thousand feet and lived. Now lets talk about the B-25 from a more technical side.

The B-25 Mitchell is a twin engine medium bomber and the B-25 had two Wright R-2600-13 Double Cyclone fourteen-cylinder air-cooled radials, rated at 1700 hp each for takeoff and 1500 hp at 2400 rpm. Equipped with Holley 1685HA carburetors or Bendix Stromberg carburetors. The B-25 is named after General Billy Mitchell and is the only American military aircraft named after a specific person. The B-25 can be flown by a six person crew. The B-25 has multiple turrets. The plane has one in the front or also known as the bombardier’s compartment and there is also another turret known as the upper turret. Then there is another turret that is in the radio operator's compartment and the gunner is known as the waist gunner. Then the last turret is in the tail and the gunner is known as the tail gunner. Another important bit of information is that each turret had at least two 50 caliber machine guns and each gun ammo capacity was from three hundred to four hundred rounds. Also this plane can deliver up to 4,000 pounds (1800 kg) of bombs and some could carry 8 × 5 in (127 mm) high velocity aircraft rockets.

Besides firepower the B-25's had some pretty good armor. The B-25's were equipped with ¼ inch (6 mm) armor along the bombardier compartment, the pilot compartment and the upper turret. Then the rest of the plane had 3/8 inch (10 mm) armor around most of the hull, but an interesting note is that there is ½ inch armor behind the tail gunner that was used to protect the tail gunner from the upper turret gunner. (Heavenly Body)

The B-25 has a wingspan 67 feet 6.7 inches, length 53 feet 5.75 inches (bomber version), height 16 feet 4.2 inches, wing area 610 square feet (57 m2). (Heavenly Body) The plane has a normal operating weight of 33,000 pounds (15,000 kg) but even though the plane is very heavy the plane has a cruising speed of 230 mph (370 km/h) and that plane has a range of 1275 miles.(Heavenly Body)

The B-25 was so useful that it was used by the Army, Air force and the Navy. This plane was also used by Australia, the United Kingdom, China, The Netherlands and the Soviet Union.

The 447th

As was stated earlier the 477th was activated January 15, 1944 and they were a group of medium bombers that flew the B-25 Mitchell. But The most important fact is that this was a "colored" group, meaning that they were an all black fleet. The 477th started out with many problems. One being that the Army Air Force did not establish Schools to train Blacks in the arts of navigation and bombardment until well into the war. Although the 477th was short of navigators and bombers that group did have pilots. A lot of these pilots were former Tuskegee Airmen that were ready to return to combat.Although the 477th was short on crew they had many more important problems.

The 477th, moreover, was born under a cloud, Army Air Forces Commanding General Henry H. (Hap) Arnold tried to abort the unit before it was born. The 477th also had the misfortune to be assigned to a numbered Air Force (1st Air Force) that was commanded by an ardent racial segregationist, Major General Frank O. Hunter. He saw his role throughout the entire history of the 477th not as one of preparing a unit for combat in a war with great stakes. Rather, he perceived his function as barring the Tuskegee Airmen from any respect from its leaders. Worse, and more importantly, he agreed to the illegal humiliation of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Besides this there were many other problems.

Colonel Robert E. Selway made white officers the head of each of the four divisions of the 477th though there were many black aviators that were much more qualified.[citation needed] In addition, Selway, without any advance notice to his men, ordered that people of the 477th to board trains to move to an unknown location. Selway was concerned about race tensions in Detroit that had never affected his unit and despite the pressures of preparing a unit that he would lead into combat, moved the unit to Godman Army Air Field near Fort Knox, Kentucky. This base was completely inadequate for the 477th. Selfridge had four times more hangar space the Godman, seven times the area, five times the aviation gasoline capacity, more runways, and better flying weather. More to the point, Godman could not house the entire group at one time because the field had inadequate apron and hangar space. The move was bad and it was done for racial reasons. The move seriously delayed the 477th training program and damaged morale." The 477th was at the undersized Godman Field from May 5, 1944 to March 1, 1945, but this was soon followed by an act of mutiny.

The Freemen Field mutiny occurred on March 10, 1945.(AFRO-American Almanac) The mutiny was a culmination of years of racisms and hate, and the worse thing was that all of this hate was condoned by General Hunter. Hunter himself gave this racist briefing.

"The War Department is not ready to recognize blacks on the level of social equal to white men. This is not the time for blacks to fight for equal rights or personal advantages. They should prove themselves in combat first. There will be no race problem here, for I will not tolerate any mixing of the races. Anyone who protests will be classed as an agitator, sought out, and dealt with accordingly. This is my base and, as long as I am in command, there will be no social mixing of the white and colored officers. The single Officers Club on base will be used solely by white officers. You colored officers will have to wait until an Officers Club is built for your use. Are there any questions? If there are, I will deal with them personally."(General Hunter)

Although the black officers were not allowed to enter the officers quarters since they were deemed trainees, the black officers got their own club.

"The 477th were not happy nor fooled by the existence of two clubs. They named their club "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" and refused to use it. Then on March 10, 1945, resistance to the racial policy's of the club situation began when two groups of black officers (14 in all) entered the white officers’ club and ordered drinks and cigarettes. They were refused service and departed without incident, but the visit caused great concern in the all-white command structure of the 477th." then the real trouble started.

On April 5, 1945 the great mutiny occurred. This happened when the last of the troops at Godman were relocated to Freeman. Then when they got there 162 of the black officers calmly walked into the white officers club a few at a time and they were all put under house arrest as they entered(Freeman Field Mutiny) and quote by Oliver Goodall himself

"It was unconstitutional, and I wasn't going to take it. We decided to walk into the officers club, and 162 of us were put under house arrest. When the war ended, they wanted to get rid of us, and they started with the troublemakers, which included me."(Oliver Goodall)

One officer Lt. Terry was fined $150 for offering violence against a superior officer.(Freeman Field Mutiny") and the rest of the men were let go, it was not until 50 years later that the Air Force finally set aside the reprimands, which haunted these men throughout their careers(Freeman Field Mutiny). And now many of the Tuskegee Airmen travel and talk about the unfair treatment they have received.

See also


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