Lawrence Edward "Larry" Campbell, Jr. Papers

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This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Lawrence Edward "Larry" Campbell, Jr. (1926-1992) was a pioneering African American aviator. He volunteered for military service in 1944 and was sent for cadet training with the 332nd Fighter Group at Tuskegee Army Air Field but was discharged in 1945 at the end of World War II. Campbell was again accepted for flight training in 1947, which he successfully completed in 1948. In the late 1940s, Campbell flew the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star which was widely reported to be the first jet flight to be made by an African American for the U.S. Air Force. Campbell was discharged again a few years later but continued his flying career with the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Campbell worked as an accident analyst and later administrative assistant with Boeing from the 1950s until taking a position as an air safety investigator with the National Transportation and Safety Board in 1963. In February of that year, Campbell joined the Alaska Air National Guard at the rank of captain making him the first African American member, and when he assumed command of the Guard unit in 1972, he became the first African American group commander in the country. Campbell retired from the Air National Guard in 1973 at the rank of colonel. Throughout his career, Campbell held a number of positions in state and Federal government including membership on the Alaska Transportation Commission; director of operations and safety manager for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Aircraft Services; and loan examiner for the Alaska Department of Commerce, Division of Veterans Affairs. Campbell was the recipient of numerous honors and awards including being selected by then Alaska governor Walter J. Hickel as the state's representative to the American Foundation for Negro Affairs Conference (1966); receiving the Air Force Commendation Award for outstanding achievement (1972); and being honored with the Alaska Legion of Merit (1992).