Interview with Harvey Bayless
- Digitized: 2012
After completing a two-year program in radio technology at Wilberforce University and passing a civil service exam, Major Bayless, a native of Ohio, began his career in radio communications, at the age of 18, as a civilian employee of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He provides a brief background on his work for the Corps and recalls experiencing a violent physical enforcement of the color line on a Greyhound bus when the Corps sent him to Lexington, Kentucky. Drafted in 1943, he recounts several humorous incidents about his induction and early training in the military. In 1944, after being assigned to the 1000th Signal Co., 96th Service Group for the 332nd Fighter Group, popularly known as the Tuskegee Airmen, he describes his experiences of sailing across the Atlantic for 33 days to reach Italy and the duties he carried there. At age 20 by the end of the war, he indicates that he was one of four African Americans to receive a field commission in World War II. He recalls his continued military service after the war and civilian occupation. Upon his retirement from the Federal Government, he received the Air Force Civilian Meritorious Service Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal from President Bush in 2007 for his service as a member of the Tuskegee Airman.