Segment 1

Annotation

[Annotator’s Note: Interviewer is attempting to level out the audio at the beginning of the interview.] Alexander Jefferson was born on 15 November 1921 in Detroit, Michigan. Jefferson does not remember being hungry. His dad worked for a foundry that was a mile and a half from Jefferson. The company was Detroit Lubricators and Jefferson’s father worked in the factory. During the Depression they ate steak almost every other day. People say they were hungry, but Jefferson was never hungry. They were the only black family in a Polish neighborhood. Jefferson has no idea how his family afforded the house. His elementary formative years were interesting. He went to Newbury Elementary School. After school some days he would walk by to a small airfield where Jefferson had his first encounter with airplanes. He read magazines about World War I and the Flying Circus. He was inspired by the magazines and made model airplanes. By the time he finished college, the Army Air Corps accepted blacks, in 1941. Jefferson finished Clark College in Atlanta Georgia in 1942 after Pearl Harbor. The Army was looking for people to go to Tuskegee Army Airfield. Jefferson was qualified passed and went to Tuskegee in April 1943. Jefferson went home to Detroit in 1942. Instead of being drafted, he became a Quartermaster. He took the Army exam and was told his name would be put on a list. From June 1942 until April 1943, Jefferson attended Howard University for chemistry. He wanted to be an organic research chemist. He was called to Tuskegee in April 1943 and left college. Jefferson joined class 44A and graduated as 2nd Lieutenant in January 1944. He stayed at Tuskegee for one month flying P-40s as 2nd Lieutenant. He transferred to Selfridge Air Force Base. Three squadrons had been formed; the 99th in North Africa and three other formed flying P-39s patrolling Italy. Jefferson was replacement pilot for P-39 in Selfridge. Jefferson was kicked out of Selfridge Field for integrating the Officers’ Club. March 1944 to April 1944, he was sent to Walterboro, South Carolina for three weeks. Jefferson was sent overseas as a replacement pilot for the 301st Fighter Squadron.

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