Date: May 23, 2024
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: Zoom, Facebook, YouTube
Events | Online Events

WWII P-51 Pilot and Tuskegee Airman Harry Stewart shares his story with us on Greatest Generation Live.

Stewart successfully completed 43 missions during World War II and is one of only four Tuskegee Airmen to have earned three aerial victories in a single day of combat. When the war in Europe ended, Stewart and his comrades expected to go to the Pacific. But after the Japanese surrender in August 1945, Stewart returned to the U.S. In 1949, he served as part of the team from the 332nd Fighter Group that won the first ever “Top Gun” fighter gunnery competition.

Also joining is is historian David Snead, author of Flying with the Fifteenth Air Force: A B-24 Pilot’s Missions from Italy during World War II. The subject of the book, Tom Faulkner, was a B-24 pilot flying out of San Giovanni airfield in Italy . Only 19 years old when he completed his 28th and last mission, Tom was one of the youngest bomber pilots to serve in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.

The 15th Air Force generally has been overshadowed by works on the 8th Air Force based in England. Snead’s book helps fill an important void by providing a first-hand account of a pilot and his crew during the waning months of the war, as well as a description of his experiences before his military service.

Harry Stewart, also with the 15th Air Force, grew up near LaGuardia Airport in Queens, which got him curious about airplanes. After Pearl Harbor, he joined the Army Air Corps to qualify as a pilot. He went to Tuskegee, Alabama, where the famous African American pilots called Tuskegee Airmen trained. He received his wings in June 1944. Stewart then commissioned as a second lieutenant and learned to fly P-40 and P-47 fighter aircraft at Walterboro Army Air Field in South Carolina. After combat training, Stewart served with the 301st Fighter Squadron as part of the 332nd Fighter Group, known as “The Red Tails.” He then went to Italy with 15th Air Force. Stewart escorted B-17 and B-24 bombers over Italy, Germany and Austria.

He left active duty a year later but remained in the Air Force Reserve for several years after. Stewart ended his service as a lieutenant colonel. He received many honors for his service, including a Distinguished Flying Cross.

Still wanting to work as a pilot after he left the service, Stewart applied to work as a pilot at two commercial airlines but they rejected him due to his race. He later attended college and earned a degree in mechanical engineering from New York University (NYU) in 1963. At NYU, he served as the president of the student council and chair of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Stewart later worked for the ANR Pipeline Company in Detroit, Michigan, one of the largest interstate natural gas pipeline systems in the United States. He retired as vice president of the company.

We’re grateful to UPMC for Life and Tobacco Free Adagio Health for sponsoring this event!