(1921-2007) Inducted November 7, 2015
Joseph White grew up in Chattanooga and his love for aviation originated from building model airplanes and flying them in competitions. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout and attended the first Boy Scout Jamboree in Washington, DC in 1937 where he met First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Following high school, Joseph entered aviation as a cadet and college detachment student at The Tuskegee Institute where he studied under Dr. George Washington Carver. Soon after his freshman year began, Joseph was selected for the new U.S. Army Air Corps segregated unit of black cadet pilots at Tuskegee. After completing his training, Joseph C. White was commissioned in the United States Air Force as a fighter pilot and assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group, better known as the “Red Tails “. He flew missions in Europe and West Africa during World War II. The “Black Air Force”, a cohesive and dedicated group, struggled with racial discrimination at home and a fearsome enemy abroad. However, White wrote “The Red Tails flew many missions taking bombers to their destinations and bringing them back. Out of the 200 planes we escorted, we never lost a bomber and that is one of the things that makes me feel real good.”
At the conclusion of his service in the Air Force, he returned to The Tuskegee Institute as a faculty member and flight instructor. He also taught radar and electronics at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. While a physicist and Director of Environmental Testing at Remington Rand UNIVAC in St. Paul Minnesota, he engaged in testing of hardware and associated parts that would be utilized in rocketry and sent into space in the 1960’s.
White studied at Fisk University, the University of Tennessee, Walden University, George Peabody College and the University of Minnesota earning a bachelor of science degree, two master’s degrees and a doctor of philosophy degree during his lifetime. He taught physics, mathematics, electronics, general science and chemistry in public schools of Tennessee. In 1959, he established the first high school electronics program in the state at Pearl Senior School in Nashville.
In 1996, Dr. White was inducted into the Education Hall of Fame of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority National Education Fund. He was a lifetime member of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., the Tennessee State University Alumni Association, the Tennessee Academy of Science and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
For extraordinary achievement and service to aviation for Tennessee, our nation and the world, and for his service to our country, Dr. Joseph Clyde White, Sr. is posthumously honored by and inducted into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame this 7th day of November 2015.