We thank him for his service!
Brigadier General Enoch Woody Woodhouse Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944, Black Enterprise reports. Back then he says there was a lot of racism he had to endure as a Black military officer.
“Blacks were told, and it was publicized, that they lacked intelligence. We were thought to be skilled for and were utilized only in support positions. That means truck drivers, laundry people, and oil fillers for airplanes. Even though we were trained in basic training, when we got into the Army, we were all relegated to service functions,” Woodhouse explained.
But World War II changed things and the U.S. was desperate for pilots. The country then teamed up with colleges and flight schools to train future aviators. President Roosevelt then signed the Selective Training and Service Act into law in 1940, ending discrimination in the Army while still maintaining segregation. Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee University then became a pilot training site and in 1942, The Tuskegee Airmen Pilot Program graduated its first class of five students.
However, Woodhouse never made it that far, the U.S. Army terminated the program just after he completed his flight training exams. Woodhouse then became a finance officer for the Tuskegee Airmen, one of the most critical jobs for the program.
“I had the most important job on base. You didn’t write checks out; you paid in cash. Everybody knew me,” said Woodhouse.
Now at the age of 96, he’s finally being honored and recognized for his service, recently granted an honorary doctorate degree from Norwich University. Norwich is the oldest private military university in the nation and the genesis of the ROTC program. It is also the alma mater of Harold “Doc” Martin, a famed Tuskegee Airmen and the first Black person to enroll at the university.
Woodhouse was honored for his work in finance and celebrated during Norwich’s April 29th commencement ceremony in Northfield, Vermont. Woodhouse is one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen and proud to be a part of America’s first all-Black combat flying unit. According to Boston University, Woodhouse was also one of the youngest military officers on base, enrolling when he was just 17. After being discharged from active duty in 1949, he joined the Air Force Reserve, eventually earning his undergraduate degree from Yale in 1952 and his Law degree from Boston University's School of Law.
For 40 years, Woodhouse worked as a trial lawyer in Boston and as an attorney for the US State Department and for the city of Boston. He has continued to speak about his experience with the Tuskegee Airmen, earning a Congressional Gold Medal for his service and being one of the first to integrate the armed forces.
Congratulations Brig. Gen. Woodhouse! Because of you, we can!
Cover photo: 96-year-old Tuskegee Airman receives his honorary doctorate degree/Photo Courtesy of Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Casey Scoular/US Navy