ONE OF TWO ORIGINAL TUSKEGEE AIRMEN IN ARIZONA DIES
Lt. Col. Asa Herring USAF, Ret; Fighter Pilot, Community Leader
The Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. is saddened to announce the passing of our very own Documented Original Tuskegee Airman, Lt. Col. Asa Herring. He was surrounded by family, friends, and chapter members when he transitioned into the “Lonely Eagles” early Friday morning, May 27, 2022.
Asa was born in Dunn, NC October 3, 1926. He was an avid aviation enthusiast all his life and graduated from high school at the age of 16 years. While a student at Tuskegee Institute in the Aircraft Maintenance Program, he passed the U. S. Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet written examination. But because he was not of age, he had to wait until he was age 18 years old to be inducted into the program.
On December 27, 1944, Asa entered active duty as a Tuskegee aviation cadet at Moton Field, AL, and flew the Stearman PT-17 and AT-6. He was three months shy of completing graduation when Germany surrendered, and World War II ended. The “Tuskegee Experience” was one of the military’s flying schools that was scheduled to close. Consequently, only a few flying schools remained opened to the Tuskegee cadets. Because of the segregation policies in the military, the only other jobs offered the former cadets were cleaning or kitchen jobs. Thus, some of the cadets opted to receive an Honorable Discharge and continue their education. The latter was the path that Asa chose.
Some of the top-notch technical schools from which Asa graduated included Tuskegee Institute, AL; Aeronautical University in Chicago, IL; and Lewis College of Science and Technology in Lockport, IL. In 1959, he was awarded credentials by the Civil Aeronautics Administration as a certified Aircraft and Engine Mechanic and as an Aircraft Ground Instructor. Despite this extensive training, Asa was unable to obtain employment with an airline or as fixed base operator. By this time, the Air Force had become a separate branch of the military, and President Harry S. Truman enacted Executive Order 9981 to banned segregation in the military. Once again, Asa Herring volunteered again for military service in the Air Force in June 1949.
For the next twenty-two years of military service, Asa served in England, Korea, Germany, Vietnam, and held other duty assignments around the world. He was the first African American Squadron Commander at Luke Air Force Base where he trained German pilots in the F-104G Advanced Jet Fighter Gunnery Program. He was officially awarded honorary Command Pilot wings in the Luftwaffe for his outstanding service.
During his exemplary career, Asa flew a wide range of aircrafts. These included the PT-17; AT-6; 01E&E; F-51D; T-33; F-86A; F-84F; and the F-100C, D, F, & G. He flew 350 combat missions in Vietnam, and his decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, and Air Medals with 13 Oak Leaf Clusters. Asa retired in 1970 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Asa joined Western-Electric (Manufacturing Branch of AT&T) after military retirement from the Air Force. He served in various management positions including Personnel, Quality Assurance, Manufacturing Operations, Benefits Administration, and other departments. He retired from AT&T in December 1989.
After both military and private sector retirements, Asa put his BA in Business Administration / Business Management Degree from Ottawa University to use. He pursued civic service in several areas. They included Phoenix Union High School Vocational Advisory Board; Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC); Prevocational Advisory Board; Board of Directors, Phoenix Business Development Center; Chairman of the General Merchandise Concessions Committee (Module), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport; Chairman, City of Phoenix Municipal Aeronautics Board; and City of Phoenix Community Development Block Grant Committee.
Asa is survived two Sons: Asa D. Herring III (Merle) Winston-Salem, NC; Mark Alan Herring, Phoenix, AZ; Grandchildren: Jacent Chestnut, Atlanta, GA; Rachel Shrank, Lafayette, IN; Martina Blasingame (Kent); Jenna Herring; Blue Springs, MO; Christopher Herring, Charlotte, NC; Tracy Thomas (Perry), Winston-Salem, NC; Michael Herring, Phoenix, AZ; and 15 great-grandchildren.