OTA Shelby F. Westbrook

viagra 40mg helvetica, visit sans-serif;”>Shelby WestbrookShelby Westbrook was born in Marked Tree, viagra approved a small town in Arkansas. When his parents passed away, he moved in with his brother in Toledo, Ohio. In March 1943, shortly after he graduated from high school, Westbrook enrolled in aviation cadet training at Tuskegee Army Air Field. (He’d never been in an airplane, but he knew he didn’t want to be in the infantry.) Westbrook finished pilot training in February 1944, and was sent to Selfridge Air Field near Detroit, Michigan, for training in single-engine fighter planes like the P-39 Air Cobra.

2nd Lt. Westbrook graduated from pilot training at Tuskegee Army Airfield on February 8, 1944 (class 44-B) and was attached to the 99th Fighter Squadron, which had the distinction of being one of the first all Black units formed by the Army Air Corps. In July 1944, after further training in South Carolina, Westbrook was shipped to Italy with the 99th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group. On R&R, Westbrook went to Naples, Rome, and Vatican City, where his group visited the Sistine Chapel and met the Pope. As a combat pilot, he was even more widely-traveled; he flew 60 missions over 12 countries in Europe. On his 31st mission, his P-51 Mustang developed engine trouble, forcing Westbrook and his wingman to crash-land in Yugoslavia. They were rescued by a group of Marshall Tito’s Partisans and delivered to a group of British intelligence officers, led by Randolph Churchill and author Evelyn Waugh. About one month later, Westbrook was back on duty. On a strafing mission over southern France, targeting radar stations one day ahead of a planned invasion, Westbrook believed he saw a fellow pilot, Richard Macon, crash into a building near Montpelier. It happened quickly, though, and the U.S. had no detailed records of it. More than fifty years later, while doing research with French-language materials, Westbrook was able to confirm that Macon had indeed crashed into a building – a German command outpost with more than 40 officers inside.

For his service in Europe, Westbrook earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 5 Clusters, the Presidential Unit Citation, the 15th Air Force Certificate of Valor and 5 Battle Stars, with an air-to-air victory over a German Me-109 fighter in October 1944.  Promoted to 1st Lt., he served in the 332nd Fighter Group from July 1944 to May 1945.  Total service: 4 years active, 6 years reserve.

Westbrook returned to the United States in June 1945. His plan was to attend an engineering school, but he was turned down – the director wouldn’t accept black students. Instead, he came to Chicago and earned a degree in electronics from the American Television Institute of Technology. He found work in the machine division at one of the country’s largest meat-packing companies, where he worked on vacuum-packaging technology for more than 18 years. Now retired, he is the author of Tuskegee Airmen 1941-1945, an extensive print and pictorial history of what he calls “the Air Force within the American Air Force.”

He served as a United States Air Force fighter pilot in the European theater where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 5 Clusters, the Presidential Unit Citation, the 15th Air Force Certificate of Valor and 5 Battle Stars. During the war, Lt. Westbrook flew many combat missions over 12 different countries on the European continent including one where he was shot down over enemy territory. He obtained one confirmed victory on October 4, 1944.

After the war, Mr. Westbrook obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electronics and was employed as an Electrical Engineer at W.R. Grace & Co., a major manufacturing facility that made packaging machines. There, Mr. Westbrook designed various types of electronic control circuits and is listed as the co-inventor of a revolutionary patented processing system that utilized a controlled vacuum as the primary packaging system that is still in use today.

Shelby Westbrook took a trip in 2007 to Washington, DC to accept a Congressional Medal from our Government. He frequently is asked to speak at colleges and corporate functions. He is active in his Tuskegee chapter and has co-authored two books regarding the Tuskegee Airmen.  His message for youth is: “Turn off the television & video set, life is not a game. Learn to read and develop y our abilities with a skill or a profession!”