Kenneth O. Wofford

Kenneth Wofford 1945

Class 45-C-SE 5/23/1945 2nd Lt. 0842888 Springfield, MO
November 22, 1922 – September 5, 2010

Kenneth Wofford, Sr. was born 22 November 1922 to Clarence and “Queenie” Wofford in Wagoner, Oklahoma.  He was a 1941 graduate of Lincoln High School of Carthage, the segregated school for Carthage’s African-American students. Wofford entered Lincoln University determined to pursue a medical career despite many obstacles but ended up a Tuskegee Airman during World War II. Kenneth earned his flight wings at Moton Field, Alabama.  His first solo was in a Piper J-3 Cub.

Back then the prejudicial mindset in the military establishment was against allowing blacks to fly in the military.  The Tuskegee School was initially an aviation experiment that was set up to prove that the American Negro did not have the capability to fly and to prove that they would  be  cowards  in  combat  or  that  they  couldn’t  adapt  to  the  technology.  The fact was that 80%  of  the  Tuskegee  Airmen  had  college  degrees. Despite the fact that the experiment was setup to prove that the black aviators would fail,  the  airmen  graduated  from  Tuskegee  Army  Flying  School  in  Alabama.

Wofford graduated in the Class 4C-SE on May 23, 1945 as Army Air Corps fighter pilot where he learned to fly the P-40 and P-47 fighter planes. Wofford did not fly in Europe, but was poised for action in Japan under the command of Gen Davis, when the war ended.

Colonel  Wofford  flew  numerous  types  of  aircraft  in  the  course  of  his  32-year  career  with the U.S. Air Force during which he accumulated more than 9,000 hours of flying in single  and  multi engine  aircraft.    The  aircraft  he  flew  during  his  illustrious  career  included  the  B-25,  B-29,  C­47,  C‐118  and  C‐135.  He  was  awarded  the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters, the Legion of Merit and Meritorious Service Medal.

Major job assignments included the positions of Executive, Director, Manager, and Supervisor; also 14 years as the Commander of varied type Support Units, Aviation Flying Squadrons, and the large Tachikawa Air Base Complex (with six satellite bases). Served with Tactical Air Command, Air Defense Command, Military Airlift Command, United States Air Force Europe (twice) Pacific Air Command and Air University. Had periods of duty in Joint-Service capacities with the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and NATO (National Atlantic Treaty Organization); also years of interrelations with many allied Foreign Government (Agencies/Officials).

Kenneth Wofford retired from the Air Force and commenced a second career in service with MN/DOT where he headed the Aeronautics Office for 10 years. Among his later projects was lecture and inspire youth, both inner city and urban, urging them to continue their schooling and finish their education. Wofford served as a regular volunteer at the Lindbergh Terminal’s Servicemen’s Center. He was a member of the Rawlings Chapter of the Air Force Association and convinced the chapter to sponsor aerospace education in elementary schools, He helped build a flight simulator to show young students what it felt like to fly. He was a long-time promoter of the Air Guard Museum and the Civil Air Patrol.

Wofford was a friend of the Anoka Composite Squadron and a frequent guest over the years, telling the Tuskegee story. He also established a scholarship fund for cadets of the squadron.

He remained active in aviation after his retirement from the Air Force, including volunteering with the Commemorative Air Force’s Red Tail Project (now known as the CAF Red Tail Squadron).

Colonel Wofford mentoring a student

In 1988, he became a founding member of the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame, serving on the board for many years, helping establish their mission statement and was adamant about the inductees having enhanced Minnesota aviation. He was not just a passive board member, but proactive, always full of new ideas and willing to help make things happen. As a result, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.

In  2001  the  National  Aeronautic  Association  honored  Colonel  Wofford  as  an  Elder Statesman of Aviation.  In March of 2007, after 60 years of service, President George W. Bush awarded the Congressional gold medal honoring 350 Tuskegee airmen and their widows,  stating,  “For  all  the  unreturned  salutes  and  unforgivable  indignities,  I  salute  you for your service to the United States of America.”

Visit our Virtual Museum and see the Memorial in honor of Kenneth Wofford