OTA John Steward Sloan, Sr.

check helvetica, more about sans-serif;”>John Stewart Sloan, visit this Sr., an original Tuskegee Airman, shot down during WWII, was an author, community activist, active church member, dedicated husband, father and successful executive, who became the Inland Steel Company’s first black personnel officer and rose to the position of corporate finance manager.  Mr. Sloan died on December 28, 2001, at the University of Chicago Hospitals from coronary artery disease.

Mr. Sloan received a degree in history and sociology from Kentucky State University.

Then Mr. Sloan heard of an unprecedented opportunity: “The United States Army Air Corps announced a training course for Negro airmen to be conducted at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute.  Sloan, a Kentucky postal worker who dreamed of being a pilot, eagerly submitted his application and was accepted into the program. Thus began a life-changing odyssey for a young man determined to serve his country, prove his mettle and see the world.”1

In 1942, Mr. Sloan joined the Army Air Corps at Tuskegee, Alabama and received his pilots wings on June 30th, 1943.  On March 30th, 1944, while returning from a combat mission with the country’s first black fighter squadron, Mr. Sloan was shot down over Italy after he crossed into Allied territory.  Gunfire from the ground during the second battle of Monte Cassion set Mr. Sloan’s plane on fire and shrapnel ripped into his left leg.  Before he parachuted to safety, Mr. Sloan took steps to prevent further loss of blood.  “First thing I had to do was put a tourniquet on my thigh”, Mr. Sloan told the Chicago Tribune newspaper in 1999.  “As the Lord would have it, that day I was wearing my white silk scarf.  This was one my wife had given me and I made a point of not wearing it every time I went up, so it wouldn’t become a symbol I would feel I needed in order to fly.  But I had decided to wear it that day.”  Mr. Sloan and his high school sweetheart, Wilhelmina “Billie” Carson had married the day before he received his wings at Tuskegee the previous year.

After moving to Chicago, Mr. Sloan became an active member of the Chatham community.  He joined the Chicago Urban League and was a consummate member of the Church of the Good Shepherd Congregational United Church of Christ, where he served as a member of the men’s club, the church trustee board and the church cabinet.  Also, as an early member of the Chicago “DODO” Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Mr. Sloan chaired the chapter’s Corporate Fundraising Committee.

Earlier in 2001, Mr. Sloan and his wife had been celebrating the release of his autobiography entitled: “Survival! A Purple Heart Tuskegee Airman”.  In addition to his wife, Mr. Sloan left behind a daughter, Linda Jeanne Sloan Locke; a son, John Steward Sloan, Jr.; a sister Mary Sloan Edelen; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

1.  Excerpted from his autobiography: “Survival! A Purple Heart Tuskegee Airman”