Lt. George Hardy flew with the 99th FS, 332nd FG in 1945.
His assigned aircraft was "Tall in the Saddle" which had originally had belonged to Captain Wendell Lucas.
Hardy joined the 99th in April 1945. He was just 19 years of age and had arrived as a replacement pilot. He flew as a wing man on 21 combat missions, most of them were high altitude escort missions but some of them were also strafing missions. He received the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters.
Lt. Hardy returned to the states in August 1945 and was discharged in November 1946. He returned to active duty in June 1948 as a P-47 pilot with the 301st Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, Lockbourne AFB, Ohio.
After the Air Force desegregated in July 1949, Hardy was reassigned to the 19th Bomb Group (B-29s) on the island of Guam. During the Korean War the 19th BG moved to Okinawa and flew bombing missions over Korea. George flew 45 combat missions over Korea. He was rated as a Command Pilot in September 1959.
During the Vietnam War Hardy was assigned to the 18th Special Operations Squadron at Phan Rang AB, Vietnam from April 1970 to April 1971.
He was the Operating Location Commander at Udorn, Thailand and then as Operating Location Commander at Danang AB, Vietnam he flew 70 combat missions in AC-119K Gunships over Northern Laos and along the Ho Chi Min Trail.
Lt. Col Hardy retired from the Air Force in November 1971. His career decorations include the DFC with Valor, and the Air Medal with 11 OLC.
The Tuskegee Airmen is the name that was generally given to the 332nd Fighter Group during WWII. The 332nd was the only US fighter group in which all pilots, ground crews and support personnel were Negroes.
The first flying cadets were inducted into the Army Air Corps in July of 1941. Tuskegee Army Air Field was constructed especially for them adjacent to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, hence the moniker.
The first squadron to be formed was the 99th. In February 1942 a second squadron, the 100th was formed. In April 1943, the 99th FS deployed to North Africa where they began combat operations as part of the 12th Air Force while the 100th FS remained in the States to form the nucleus of the 332nd FG.
From April 1943 to June 1944 the 99th FS, flying P-40 Warhawks, was attached at different times to several all white fighter groups. On July 3, 1944 the 99th FS was absorbed into the 332nd FG which had been flying combat operations since February.
The 332nd FG now consisted of the 99th, 100th, 301st, and 302nd Fighter Squadrons and was part of the 15th Air Force based at Ramitelli in Italy. It was the only 4-squadron Fighter Group in the USAAF.
Concurrent with the addition of the 99th, the Group re-equipped with the North American P-51 Mustang and began flying combat missions.
The 332nd painted the tail surfaces of their Mustangs red with red spinners.
A 12 inch band aft of the the spinner was different colour for each of the squadrons. The first mission that all four squadrons operated together as a group was on 18, July 1944.
The Tuskegee Airmen flew their last mission of WWII on 30 April 1945. They were credited with 111 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air and 150 on the ground.
They were also credited with the sinking of an enemy destroyer using only machine gun fire. The 332nd FG were awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for operations over Germany on 24 March 1945.
# Check out the full fantastic documentary by History Channel
Many thanks to Stardust Studios: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zpt2cNYpXGE
And to the USAAF Band: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zpt2cNYpXGE
* Photo shoot is one of many organised by the visionary: http://www.timelineevents.org/
# CRHnews videos featuring legendary Red Tail Lt Col Lee 'Buddy' Archer DFC at Stansted Airport as well as footage from the 'High In The Saddle' photo-shoot and in the livery of 'Jumpin Jacques' at North Weald.