Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans


Walt Richardson | Multiple Units - Air Force

3:04   |   Walt Richardson pays his respect to all the great leaders in his life, starting with his mother. She was the foundation for his fulfilling Air Force career.

More From Walt Richardson

Keywords   :     Walt Richardson    Black    African American    mother    teacher    Benjamin O. Davis Jr.    Barack Obama

Videos ( 11 )
  • Walt Richardson  |  Korea  |  Multiple Units  |  4:33

    Aircraft mechanic Walt Richardson was based in Okinawa when the Korean War started. The general's personal B-17 was used for supply runs but he couldn't go because he had no combat or survival training. When he was transferred to Eglin Air Force Base, he found that President Truman's integration order had not yet filtered down, but he persevered.

  • Walt Richardson  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  4:35

    For the first time in his Air Force career, Walt Richardson was in a combat zone. When the aircraft mechanic arrived in Vietnam, one of the first things he saw was bodies being unloaded from a helicopter. That rattled him. Then there were the rocket attacks.

  • Walt Richardson  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  3:37

    Walt Richardson volunteered at a Catholic orphanage while he was in Vietnam, helping the nuns take care of children. He also found time to start a musical group and had a good time playing in clubs. He was a childhood friend of the legendary Chappie James, the first black 4-star General in the Air Force.

  • Walt Richardson  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  3:41

    During his Air Force career, Walt Richardson made it his duty to help other black airmen get through the prejudice they encountered. He remembers one particular young man who got into some trouble in Thailand.

Cold War
  • Walt Richardson  |  Cold War  |  Tuskegee Airmen  |  4:54

    His aim was to help put his sister through college. Walt Richardson scored so well on the tests that he was inducted into the Air Force. Perhaps it was the schooling he received at the school run by the mother of Chappie James, who became the first black Air Force 4-star General.

  • Walt Richardson  |  Cold War  |  Multiple Units  |  5:34

    Walt Richardson was in the last all black training flight in the Air Force. His aim was to serve his three year obligation and then return to college, but he saw a musical revue put on by members of the fabled Tuskegee Airmen. They were holding open auditions and he went to showcase his fine singing voice.

  • Walt Richardson  |  Cold War  |  Tuskegee Airmen  |  4:46

    In order to implement President Truman's order that military units would no longer be segregated, the Air Force selected 1500 Tuskegee Airmen to go out into all white units. Walt Richardson was told at the briefing that he was to not be a problem but a solution.

  • Walt Richardson  |  Cold War  |  Multiple Units  |  3:43

    After successfully completing aircraft mechanic school, Walt Richardson joined the crew on a commanding general's B-17 in Okinawa. As the only black crew member, he had to earn respect and he did. He was also part of the honor guard when the first freely elected leaders in Japan were inaugurated.

  • Walt Richardson  |  Cold War  |  Multiple Units  |  3:26

    For Walt Richardson, it was all about the core values of America. As one of the first black airmen to integrate the Air Force, he calls on his unique perspective to explain why America is so much greater than other nations that are so much older.

  • Walt Richardson  |  Cold War  |  Multiple Units  |  2:56

    Asked what was the strangest thing he saw in the Air Force, Walt Richardson recalls a visit to a Japanese bath house while he was stationed in Okinawa. The proprietor had never seen a black man before and was puzzled about something.

  • Walt Richardson  |  Cold War  |  Multiple Units  |  4:48

    It was a little known story. 1500 airmen were sent out from the Tuskegee Airmen to integrate white units in the Air Force. Walt Richardson was one of those and the work he did did not stop when he retired.

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