At the end of the war, more than 12,000 American POWs were scattered in camps across the Pacific in desperate shape. From August 30-September 20, 1945, in Operation Swift Mercy, B-17s and B-29s flew 1,000 missions and dropped 4,500 tons of supplies to American troops no longer prisoner, but still trapped.
Alberta Hunter was already a seasoned performer when she and the “Rhythm Rascals” traveled to the “forgotten” China-Burma-India (CBI) theater as the first African American entertainers to visit there, and she later sang for Eisenhower himself. Her service in World War II, however, is but one of many extraordinary stories of this highly regarded woman’s life.
Willa Brown may not be a household name, but her accomplishments and legacy are nothing short of astounding. The first African American woman to hold a commercial pilot’s license in the United States and teacher of hundreds of future Tuskegee Airmen has a fascinating and inspiring life story.