Wall of Honor Location:
Foil: 12 Panel: 4 Column: 1 Line: 9
Wall of Honor Level:
Air and Space Friend
Leslie Edwards was the Flight Chief of Flight A in the 617th Bomb Squadron, responsible for the flight readiness of five B 25 medium Bombers. The 617th Bomb Squadron was one of four Squadrons that made up the 477th Bombardment Group.
He was a high school dropout and already married when he was drafted. He found the arduous training at Sheppard Field, Texas befuddling, but with persistence and help, succeeded in completing the aircraft and engine mechanics training. This proved to be a turning point in his life, for his dedication and high standards led to his being selected as Flight Chief at Goodman Field, Kentucky in 1943. This was no mean achievement for this young man, for there were five Crew Chiefs and twenty five Mechanics coveting this post. This determination and striving for excellence has been a hallmark of Leslie's efforts throughout his career.
Leslie was flight chief of the maintenance team charged with preparing the 617th Bomb Squadron for overseas duty. Its near perfect record led to activation for combat duty on April 13, 1944. A year later this Tuskegee-Trained Bomber Group combined with the Tuskegee Fighter Group to form the 477th Composite group and was stationed at Freeman Field, Indiana.
Freeman Field was the site where denial of entry of Tuskegee Officers into the Officers Club there resulted in arrest and court martial of 162 of them, an infamous act in American military history. These officers were tried at Goodman Field, Kentucky. The non-violent, honorable and respectful attitudes of both commissioned and non-commissioned men. In the face of this flagrant abandonment of American principles, is a source of mixed pride and sorrow for Leslie Edwards to this day.
The dismissal of the court martial following a historic and lengthy trial, in which Cincinnati's Ted Berry played a prominent role, made it a double victory for these warriors who had fought for our country. It was a victory over forces denying freedom abroad and over those who would deny freedom in our country. These are battles that must neither be abandoned nor forgotten.. .