From Tuskegee Airman to CAP Wing Commander: Col. George Boyd
CAP recognizes Black History Month by honoring the late Col. George Boyd, Tuskegee Airman and former Kansas Wing commander.
1st Lt. Vince Powers
The year was 1943, gas was 15 cents a gallon, the Pentagon building had just been completed and World War II was in full stride.
In Teaneck, New Jersey, an African-American teenager named George Boyd joined Civil Air Patrol's North Bergen County Squadron, starting a lifelong journey of serving his community and country. As a cadet sergeant Boyd taught new cadets how to drill and the importance of maintaining discipline.
In 1944 at age 18,he joined the Army Air Corps to help the war effort. For some this would have prevented a dilemma – going overseas to fight racism and at the same time facing it back home.
Not for Boyd; his duty to his country came first. He became one of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of black aviators that started off as an "experiment" because there were people who didn't think blacks had the capability to fly airplanes. The "experiment" turned out to be a great success, and as a result cultural change had slowly begun.
The amount of obstacles that Boyd and people like him had to go through can’t be overstate. While the Air Force implemented policies of equality, attitudes and mindsets were slower to change.
As Boyd put it, "Cultural change takes place at your dinner table in your home; it's what you teach your children". He didn't let anything stop him. He served in the Air Force for 28 years through three wars and retired as a major.
After retiring in Kansas, Boyd reconnected with Civil Air Patrol, this time to share wisdom and experience with both cadets and senior members. He loved being around young people and anyone who would hear him talk about his experiences.
He achieved the position of Kansas Wing commander, which brought with it a promotion to colonel in CAP. He also served as director of aviation for the state of Kansas.
In 2007, Boyd and his fellow original Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honor. He was included in a second group honored with the medal in 2014, when CAP was recognized for its volunteer World War II service.
On June 21, 2018, his earthly journey came to an end, two days before his 92nd birthday. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.