AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive
Eugene Jacques Bullard's Medals Stolen
More than 3,500 Air Force Museum items gone; thefts, false records mask trail of lost artifacts
By Wes Hills
In a ceremony attended by three of the nation's most prominent black U.S. Air Force generals, Richard K. Reid presented to the United States Air Force Museum the 15 medals and two badges awarded to his grandfather, Eugene Jacques Bullard, America's first black combat aviator.
"We have now been entrusted with the responsibility for preserving and displaying the medals and decorations of a most historic American," Royal D. Frey, then the museum's curator, proclaimed at the 1973 ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Bullard, one of the most decorated heroes in French military history, had remained almost a stranger in his native land. Unable to fly as a combat pilot for his own country because he was black, Bullard volunteered to fight for France during World War I. The U.S. Air Force finally commissioned Bullard a second lieutenant in 1994, more than three decades after his death in 1961.
The Air Force failed to keep its promise to preserve Bullard's medals, just as it failed to protect uncounted other symbols of sacrifice entrusted to it by war heroes, prisoners of war and their families.
Bullard's medals were stolen in 1990 from the Air Force Museum, the world's oldest and largest military aviation museum.
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"Thefts, false records mask trail" plus other related articles.
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