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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).



Processing Information

Arranged, described, and encoded by Jessamyn Lloyd, 2018.


Campbell, Lawrence Edward "Larry," Jr.,, 1926-1992.


bulk 1945-1992


Dolores R. Campbell, Gift, 2016, NASM.2016.0035


0.87 Cubic feet ((2 boxes))


This collection consists of approximately 0.87 cubic feet of material relating to the career of Lawrence Edward "Larry" Campbell, Jr. in the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force Reserves, the National Transportation and Safety Board, and the Alaska Air National Guard.


No restrictions on access.


Collection descriptions

Archival materials




Video recordings


Arrangement note

This collection is arranged by type of material, or in some cases topic. Items within each folder are arranged chronologically. Titles in brackets were applied by Archivist.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of approximately 0.87 cubic feet of material relating to the career of Lawrence Edward "Larry" Campbell, Jr., including photographs; news clippings; correspondence; military and personnel records; award certificates and commendations; training materials and manuals; flight records; and a folder of material pertaining to a racial discrimination complaint that Campbell filed against his supervisor at the Alaska Field Office of the National Transportation and Safety Board. There are fifteen black and white photographs in the collection ranging in size from approximately 2.5 by 3.5 inches up to 8 by 10 inches. Aircraft shown in the photographs are the Republic P-47 (F-47) Thunderbolt; Lockheed (F-80) P-80A Shooting Star; and the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar. The collection also contains three VHS tapes containing oral history interviews of Lawrence Edward "Larry" Campbell, Jr. that were conducted by his family, the ceremony presenting him the The Alaskan Legion of Merit, and his memorial service; as well as two of Campbell's pilot's log books. The first log book covers the dates October 1947 to June 1960, and the second has a single entry for June 1968.





Video recordings



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Topics Aeronautics
Republic P-47 (F-47) Thunderbolt Family
Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar
Lockheed (F-80) P-80A Shooting Star
African American air pilots


Lawrence Edward "Larry" Campbell, Jr. Papers, NASM.2016.0035, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Archival Repository

National Air and Space Museum Archives