A mixed media artwork by Roy E. LaGrone, of a United States Army Air Force pilot (Lieutenant Herman ‘Ace’ Lawson) in World War Two. A well executed fine art piece, today’s post carries its social history front and centre – and rightly so as its a celebration of African-American achievement*.
LaGrone was a member of the 332d Fighter Group, United States Army Air Forces, which became famous as part of the the Tuskegee airmen – a story well worth a look, though I won’t write it up in detail here, having written it up on my Vintage Aero Writer blog as ‘The Tuskegee Airmen: case study of diversity in history’. (That has proven one of my most popular blog posts, clearly coming up in school project online searches!)
As Leif S Peng notes in the Today’s Inspiration Facebook group where the image came from this is “… original art from a U.S. Airforce exhibit (and book collection) of the artist’s work.” Roy E LaGrone’s obituary here mentions the discrimination hew faced even as a US Army air force officer fighting for his country. Developing his art interest, he provides a very, very rare insight as both a combat, fighter pilot, and an artist, studying art at the University of Florence, Italy after his military service. (I can think of only one other artist who was a combat pilot in World War Two, Wing Commander Gordon Olive, CBE, DFC, RAAF who painted his experiences – though I’m sure there are more – anyone?) A good LaGrone bio on the NMUSAF website here (Where LaGrone’s family service photo is from) and a Baltimore Sun obituary here, and a great family memoir here, where I’ve taken the image below, originally published in Ebony Magazine, 1960, from.
James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.
Main image via Today’s Inspiration Group, post here. Another version in the Digital Public Library of America. Others indicated in text.
*For ‘Black History Month’ that I decided to celebrate two days late.