Lee A. "Buddy" Archer, Jr., has four confirmed victories, making him the aerial victory leader among the famed Tuskegee Airmen, a group of black fighter pilots who never lost an allied bomber to enemy air action. While a student at New York University in early 1941, Archer applied for pilot training in the US Army Air Corps. Although he passed the requisite examinations, Archer was refused appointment because government policy did not allow black citizens to serve in the Army Air Corps. Still determined to serve his country, Archer enlisted in the Army. In May 1942, while an instructor at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, Archer became aware the Army Air Forces was accepting black candidates for pilot training under the "Tuskegee Experiment" and immediately applied.
In 1943, Archer earned his wings while graduating at the top of his class. He was assigned to the 302d Fighter Squadron of the 332d Fighter Group flying the Curtis P-40 Warhawk. In January 1944, after training in the Bell P-39 Airacobra, the 332d was transferred to Italy where they flew convoy escort, reconnaissance, and strafing missions to cover Allied forces at Anzio. Converting to the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and then the North American P-51 Mustang in rapid succession, Archer flew escort for numerous long-range bomber missions, as well as strafing missions against enemy landing zones and troops on the march. As one of the "red-tailed angels" Archer flew 169 combat missions. He returned stateside to Tuskegee Army Air Field as Chief of the Instrument Instructor School.
Throughout the remainder of his Air Force career, he held numerous command and staff positions including Chief of Protocol for the French Liaison Office, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE); White House Air Force-France Project Officer; and chief and executive officer of three international military organizations including the SHAPE Liaison Office, 36th North American Air Defense Division, and HQ USAF Southern Command, Panama. Decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross and having received special citations from Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson and the Director of the CIA, Archer retired as a lieutenant colonel after serving 29 years. Upon his retirement from active duty, he immediately applied his leadership philosophy to the business world, providing many opportunities for minority owned businesses. His positions included Corporate Vice President for Urban Affairs for the General Foods Corporation, Chief Executive Officer for North Street Capital Corporation, and Chair of the Hudson Commercial Corporation. He now resides in New Rochelle, New York, where he is president of his own investment firm and speaks to military personnel around the world about his experiences.
On 18 July 1944, Lee "Buddy" Archer shot down a Messerschmitt Me 109 over Memmingen, Germany. He destroyed six more on the ground during a strafing mission in August. He added three additional victories in a single air battle over Lake Balaton, Hungary, on 12 October 1944. As one of the famous Tuskegee Airman, Lieutenant Colonel Archer's perseverance and heroic exploits helped pave the way for future generations of African Americans in the United States Armed Forces.