Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Jefferson, (ret.)

After graduating from Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1942, 2nd Lieutenant Alexander Jefferson graduated from a pilot training course at Tuskegee Army Air Field in January 1944, followed by three months of combat training at Selfridge Field, Michigan. Jefferson flew approximately 100 combat hours in a P-51c as a fighter pilot with the Red Tail, 332nd Fighter Group, 301st Fighter Squadron in Rametelli, Italy.

In the course of providing protection from enemy aircraft, Lieutenant Jefferson flew 18 long-range escort missions for B-17 and B-24 bombers. On Aug 12, 1944, three days prior to the invasion of Southern France, he was shot down by ground fire while strafing radar stations on the coast. Captured by German troops and interned for nine months as a prisoner of war, Jefferson spent five months in Stalag Luft III, 80 miles east of Berlin on the Odor River.

On January 29, 1945 when the Russians started their offensive, the prisoners; American, British and French, were transferred to Stalag VIA, Mooseburg, approximately 20 miles north of Dachau. Liberated by American forces on 29th of April 1945, Jefferson visited Dachau to witness the results of the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

Jefferson was discharged from active duty in 1947 and retired from the USAir Force Reserves in 1969 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 21 years of service and 4 years in the US Army Air Corp of World War II.

His awards are many, having received his Pilot’s Wings, Class 44A in January 1944, after which he has earned throughout his career, the Air Medal, Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European/ Africa/Middle East Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, National Defense Reserve Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal and Air Force Longevity Service Award.

Following the war, Lieutenant Colonel Jefferson became an elementary school science teacher in the city of Detroit. He retired as an assistant principal in 1979. He authored his biography as a prisoner of war entitled, “Red Tail Captured; Red Tail Free”. He has also been featured in numerous documentaries about the Tuskegee Airmen.

Colonel Jefferson is one of the founders of the Detroit Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen and is a member of the Tuskegee Airmen Speakers Bureau. He is an active member of various church, educational and alumni organizations. As a Life Member of the Silver Falcon Association, he serves on a voluntary basis as an Admissions Counselor for the United States Air force Academy and the Air Force R.O.T.C. Jefferson is a Life Member of American Ex-Prisoner of War and is a Perpetual Member of the Military Order of the World Wars.

On October 14, 1995, Dr. Jefferson was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame. On March 29, 2007, Lieutenant Colonel Jefferson was one of several hundred Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen (DOTAs) to receive (as a group) the Congressional Gold Medal.

Return to full list of PIONEERS IN AVIATION