In his 100 years of life, Dr. Hillard Warren Pouncy Jr. has a lot to be proud of. One of the last living Tuskegee Airmen, Pouncy arrived at his birthday achievement at Presbyterian Retirement Village in Austell. During World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen were a group of roughly 15,000 African American pilots, bombardiers, navigators, instructors, mechanics, and other support personnel who served in the United States Air Force.
Blacks and whites were often separated in the military, as they were in the rest of the country. Pouncy has pondered how racial elements inside the nation have changed over the course of his century. In his words,”The situation was different then, at that point, we had faith in partition of the races more than we do now. I regularly snicker regarding that now, and exactly the way in which various things were.”
Pouncy was born in Prichard, Alabama, on Feb. 8, 1922, and relocated to Eufaula, Alabama, in 1930 with his brother and two sisters to be raised by his grandparents. His grandparents spent much of their lives working in the cotton fields, and his grandfather was born just three years after slavery ended. He explained that his granddad was almost all African.
Pouncy went to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama on a work scholarship after graduating as valedictorian of his high school in 1940. He worked on a farm as a student there, assisting with machines. Pouncy was inspired by the sight of Black cadets marching across campus and decided to join the military.
Pouncy explained that he elected to enlist in the Air Force since they were letting Black folks learn how to fly. They wanted to fly and young ladies were keen on folks that wanted to fly.
Pouncy at first needed to be a pilot and went to flight school for a week prior to choosing to be a bombardier on a B-25.
The centenarian recalls Japan’s assault on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and figured he would before long be headed toward the conflict. However, he never went into battle, saying he was “fortunate in like that.”
A large number of his partners got back home harmed. Pouncy explained, “When one of my pals returned, his face had entirely transformed… he had been scorched so badly that he was barely recognisable.”
Pouncy served his whole military career in Tuskegee as an airman. Pouncy met his better half, Mattie Mae Hunter Pouncy, while at Tuskegee and wedded her a couple of years after the conflict. She died in 2007.
When asked about his experiences with racism when he was younger, Pouncy observed that the term “racism” was not widely used at the time. He felt racism is a genuinely new word for him. They didn’t use that word when they were 12 or 13. He felt that poverty was what welcomed that on and figured that assuming they went to class, they could eradicate a portion of that.
When then-President Franklin Roosevelt marked the G.I. Bill of Rights, he exploited to acquire sponsored schooling, considering it the “main beneficial thing to emerge from World War II.” “They said they’d buy you books, pay for your tuition, and help your wife and kids,” Pouncy explained. “In my perspective, that was the best investment that came out of the war.”
Pouncy used the G.I. Bill to get a master’s degree in chemistry and a Ph.D. from Syracuse University after the war. He then, at that point, worked 30 years as a scientific expert and researcher for Union Carbide. He likewise added to his long stretches of administration with the National Guard.
Pouncy is proud of the educational route he was able to build for his family when he looks back on his life. His son got a Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his grandson is nearing completion of his Ph.D. at Harvard.
Pouncy’s child, Hillard Pouncy III, says he actually asks why precisely his dad battled for the United States when Black individuals were treated as second class citizens. “Why battle for a country that had let you know you weren’t equivalent?,” Pouncy III said. “Individuals like my dad acknowledged a weight that was strikingly unreasonable, and the headway they made in the course of their life is to be respected.”
The senior Pouncy says he is pleased to be an American, and glances back at the steps Black individuals have made in the course of his life with satisfaction, referring to the appointment of previous President Barack Obama as an indication of a changed country.
“One day I looked up and there was a Black man president of one of the finest countries that has ever existed,” Pouncy remarked. “America is a fantastic country.”
Pouncy emphasised his day-by-day approach when asked if he has the key to longevity now that he is in his triple digits. Pouncy explained that he believes that each individual should take one day at a time and do all that can be expected with that day and then do the same thing tomorrow. Then at that point, you look into one day and out of nowhere you realise you’re really old.
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