Chappie: America's First Black Four-Star General: The Life and Times of Daniel James, Jr.

Chappie: America's First Black Four-Star General: The Life and Times of Daniel James, Jr.

Chappie: America's First Black Four-Star General: The Life and Times of Daniel James, Jr.

Chappie: America's First Black Four-Star General: The Life and Times of Daniel James, Jr.

Excerpt

America has seen black generals in its history, each bursting with those vital juices that seem to flow from general officers. But none have had quite the bright sheen of the late Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr., of the United States Air Force. Big, blunt, and burly, he strode the precincts of officer country with a special kind of resolution, culminating a solid career with the sparkling insignia of a four-star general.

It is a resounding success when any officer in the military achieves such a rank. It was a spectacular achievement for a black man alive in General James' era (1920-1978) to officially append eight stars to his tunic, mute reminders of almost the ultimate in generalship.

There will be those who scoff at the achievement and say that this man just happened along at the right places and times. There is a modicum of truth in that. But seers say that whatever a man creates in his life is his unique design, his alone, never done before and never to be done exactly the same again. Nick Thimmesch, in the 18 March 1978 issue of the Los Angeles Times called General James "a remarkable human being . . . a triumph of will . . . [who] . . . bulled his way through prejudice and closed doors . . . and at the end of his career, carried the responsibility of protecting us all from air or missile attack -- Commander-in-Chief of the North American Defense Command. . . ."

No matter what the scoffers may suggest, it was a feat comparable to the first successful assault on Mount Everest or the first completed English Channel . . .

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