These are the Tuskegee Airmen from Cincinnati in alphabetical order:
- Edward Doram
- Newman Golden
- Benny Kimbrough
- John Leahr
- Nicholas Neblett
- Eugene Smith
Edward Doram grew up in Walnut Hills in Cincinnati and attended Withrow High School. He joined the army after finishing school.
During his two years of service, he trained as a pilot at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant in October 1945.
As that was a month after the end of the war, Doram didn’t fly in battle. However, all pilots who completed their training at the Institute are considered Tuskegee Airmen.
When he left military service, Dorman worked for forty years in Cincinnati as a salesman. He worked primarily for Hudepohl Beers, the local brewing company.
He also ran a bar in Lincoln Heights.
Edward Doram played his part in raising knowledge about the efforts and achievements of black pilots. He was president of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc.
Before he died in 2007, aged 84, he was given a key to the city. He also received the Congressional Gold Medal
Newman Golden was born in 1919 in Cincinnati. He graduated as a Flight Officer from the Tuskegee Institute in August 1944.
He flew a P-51 Mustang with the 99th Fighter Squadron in Italy.
During a mission over Austria in Marcy 1945, his plane experienced mechanical problems. Golden had to bail out of the plane and was captured by the Germans.
He was a POW in Stalag until the end of the war.
He went to the Korean War in 1950 with the 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. His P-51D Mustang took a direct hit from anti-aircraft fire from the ground.
His plane crashed, but Golden’s body was never recovered. This happened on the 17th of October 1951, and he was declared “missing in action”. He was 32 years of age.
He was declared “killed in action” after the end of the war.
Benny Kimbrough graduated as 2nd Lieutenant in August 1944. He flew a single-engine fighter plane.
He flew with the 332nd Fighter Group.
Unfortunately, I don’t have more information about Benny Kimbrough.
John Leahr was one of a family of ten children in Cincinnati. His father worked as a chauffeur.
Leahr enlisted in the army after he graduated high school in 1938. He was commissioned in 1943.
When he learned that a black aviation school was about to be created, he immediately set out to join the institute. He graduated in July 1943 and was assigned to the 301st Squadron.
Leahr flew the single-engine P-51C Mustang during the war. He flew over 130 combat missions, mostly over Italy.
Coincidentally, he had been in the same Cincinnati elementary school as a white bomber pilot, Herbert Heilbrun. Leahr was escorting Heilbrun’s B-17 when it was hit, and ensured that his fellow pilot got back to base.
They didn’t realize the connection until years later. A bench at the North Avondale Montessori School now commemorates these two heroes.
After the war, Leahr retrained on multi-engine aircraft. He became a flight instructor on the B-25 bombers.
He then worked for nearly a decade at General Electric Aircraft Engines in Ohio. He would go on to become a finance broker.
John Leah died in 2015.
Nicholas Neblett grew up near Lunken Airport and developed a keen interest in aviation. He was drafted into military service in 1943 when he was 23 years old.
Neblett worked hard to pass the tests to get into the Tuskegee aviation institute.
He was one of the few cadets who graduated as a pilot, a navigator, and a bombardier. Because he graduated in June 1946, he didn’t fly in World War II.
However, he flew both single and twin engines for the army for several years.
As a civilian, Neblett joined GE as a janitor in 1950. His hard work and tenacity brought him to the role of foreman in the jet fighter testing division. He worked for GE for thirty-two years.
Nicholas Neblett died in 1914.
Eugene Smith deserves full respect as a Tuskegee Airman, and I honor him equally.
However, he wasn’t an African American. Because he was partly Native American, he was classified at birth as “colored”. But he grew up as a white man.
When he joined the Air Corps, the military authorities saw the classification on his birth certificate. They insisted that he could only continue his training with black pilots at the Tuskegee Institute.
Smith flew a single-engine fighter plane during the war. He escorted the bombers on many flight missions.
After the war, he earned a law degree. He practiced as an attorney in Cincinnati for the rest of his working life.