HALL-Charles-B.-Captain-USAAF

Captain Charles B. Hall, United States Army Air Corps (Image credit: This day in Aviation)

Charles Blaskey Hall took part in World War II United States Army Air Corps as an Aviator. He was born on 25th August 1920, in Brazil, Clay County, Indiana, USA. He was the second child of Franklin Hall, a 30-year-old kiln-burner from Mississippi, and Anna Blakesly Hall, 25 years old, and also from Mississippi.

He graduated from Brazil High School in 1938. While African-American children across the nation were forced to attend inferior schools, at Brazil High School, Hall excelled at several sports. After which he went to Eastern Illinois University, where he majored in Pre-Med, and was active in sports. Hall worked as a waiter while attending college. 

In anticipation of the United States being drawn into World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented a pilot training program to create a reserve of trained civilian fliers in case of national emergency. The African Americans were sent to Tuskegee Institute, a college founded in Alabama in 1881 by Booker T. Washington, to be trained. Hall was one of the first of 43 African Americans to participate in the training.

Initial flight training was conducted at Moton Field, a few miles away, and the cadets transitioned into operational aircraft at Tuskegee Army Air Field. Additional flight training took place at Cochran Field, near Montgomery, Alabama. On completion of training, Charles B. Hall was commissioned as a second lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, on 3 July 1942.

Lieutenant Charles B. Hall married Miss Maxine Jessie Parish, a stenographer, in Vigo County, Indiana, 14 December 1942. Details on his first marriage are unclear,  but he later remarried. 

99th Flying Training Squadron 

The squadron was originally formed during World War II as the first flying unit for African Americans. Known as the Tuskegee Airmen, the unit served with distinction in the European Theater of Operations. Following the war it served as a flight training unit for four years in the mid and late 1940s until its inactivation. It was reactivated in 1988 to once again fill a flight training role. 

Charles-B.-Hall

1st Lieutenant Charles B. Hall, in the cockpit of his Curtiss-Wright P-40L Warhawk fighter, points to a swastika which represents the Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Fw 190¹ that he shot down, 2 July 1943. (U.S. Air Force)

Charles B. Hall was part of this squadron, which was the first unit to be assigned overseas. It was sent to North Africa, 2 April 1943, as part of the 33rd Fighter Group.

On 2 July 1943, at the age of 22, Hall was on an escort mission of B-25 medium bombers on a raid on Castelvetrano in southwestern Sicily, Italy. This was his eighth mission. He shot down the German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger while in a P-40. He was the first black airman, among the Tuskegee Airmen to shoot down an enemy aircraft during World War II.  The victory prompted General Eissenhower to come and congratulate Hall in person.

Captain Charles B. Hall is congratulated by General Dwight D. Eisenhower on the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. (Image credits)

Charles Hall’s fighter was a Curtiss-Wright P-40L-15-CU Warhawk, 42-10895. The P-40L (Curtiss-Wright Model 87-B3) differed from the majority of P-40s in that it was powered by a Packard V-1650-1 Merlin engine instead of the Allison V-1710. The P-40L had a maximum speed of 368 miles per hour (592 kilometers per hour).

1st Lieutenant Charles B. Hall, 99th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Group, flew this Curtiss-Wright P-40L-15-CU Warhawk, 42-10895, when he shot down an enemy airplane, 2 July 1943. (U.S. Air Force)

Honors

He was the first African-American to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in World War II. He flew 198 missions over Africa, Italy, and other areas of the Mediterranean and Europe. After the war, he remained in the service and retired from the Air Force at the rank of Major. 

Charles B. Hall Memorial

Charles B. Hall Memorial (Image credit)

After his service, he worked at Tinker AFB (Tinker Air Force Base) in Oklahoma, from 1949-1967. On June 18, 2002, the Tinker Heritage Airpark was renamed the Major Charles B. Hall Airpark, in his honor. After his retirement from Tinker AFB, he worked at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Hall later married Miss Lola Delois Miles of Oklahoma City. They had two children and remained together until his death, 22 November 1971. He was buried at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.