Gathering of Eagles Foundation

Honored as an Eagle in:

1995 2002 2003 2006 2007

Eagle Biography

Lee A. Archer Jr

Lee A. "Buddy"; Archer is one of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, the group of black pilots who compiled an outstanding combat record in WW II. After excelling in high school, he enrolled in New York University to study International Relations. In early 1941, sensing war was imminent, he applied for pilot training in the US Army Air Corps. Although he passed the mental and physical examinations, he was refused appointment because government policy at the time did not allow black citizens to serve in the Army Air Corps. Disappointed by the rejection but determined to serve, Archer left school and enlisted in the Army.

In May 1942, while instructing at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, Archer heard the Army Air Corps was accepting black candidates for pilot training under the "Tuskegee Experiment." He immediately reapplied. In July 1943, Archer earned his wings and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He transferred to the 302d Fighter Squadron of the 332d Fighter Group flying the P-40 Warhawk. In January, after retraining in P-39 Airacobras, the 332d was transferred to Italy. Archer flew convoy escort, scrambles, reconnaissance, and strafing missions to cover allied forces pinned down on the Anzio Beaches.

In early March his fighter group was transferred to the 306th Fighter Wing. The unit converted to the P-47 Thunderbolt and was assigned to Ramitelli Air Base, Italy. In the P-47, Archer flew cover and escort for numerous B-24 and B-17 long-range bomber missions, as well as strafing missions against enemy landing grounds and troops on the march. Soon the unit converted to the P-51 Mustang. Archer flew escort and offensive missions over more than 11 countries. Having flown 169 combat missions, scoring at least 4.5 aerial victories, he returned stateside and was assigned once again to Tuskegee Army Air Field, this time as Chief of the Instrument Instructors School.

He was selected for a regular commission and sent to UCLA to complete his college education. Some of his post-war duties included: Chief of Protocol for the French Liaison Office-SHAPE; White House Air Force-France Project Officer; Chief, Latin American Postal Region; and Chief and Executive Officer of three International Military Organizations (SHAPE-Liaison Office, 36th NORAD Division, and HQ USAF Southern Command-Panama). After 29 years of service Archer retired, having accrued eight Air Medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and Special Citations from Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson, and the Director of the CIA. He also received the Accuel de Paris, a special award presented by the mayor of Paris for activities in support of French-United States relations.

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Lithograph Setting

On 18 July 1944, "Buddy" Archer destroyed a Messerschmitt Me 109 over Memmingen, Germany, another on 20 July, and six more on the ground during a strafing mission in August. He added three more in a single air battle over Lake Balaton, Hungary, on 13 October 1944. As one of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, Archer's perseverance and heroic exploits helped pave the way for future generations of blacks in the United States Armed Forces.

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