Roger Romine ’38

Roger Romine ’38, as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen fighter pilot squadron in World War II.

Roger Romine, whose father worked in dining cars on the Southern Pacific Railroad, was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black fighter pilot squadron which became one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II. Its record paved the way for full integration of the US military in 1948.

Romine served as First Lieutenant from 1942-1944 when he perished in Italy. He flew a M1005, aka a “Red Tail,” a single-engine fighter, in the 302nd fighter squadron of the 332nd fighter group. As a fighter pilot, Roy Romine shot at enemy planes threatening the heavy bomber planes he was protecting and destroyed at least 3 enemy aircraft in aerial combat. At Tech, Roger had been a track star, setting a new record for the high jump. He enlisted in the Air Force and was one of the first black officers commissioned from the Bay Area.

Romine flew countless missions under incredible pressure. On the day he downed his second and third planes, he wrote a letter home that was quoted in the Oakland Tribune on December 5, 1944. He wrote, “We are all afraid, but chance decides in most cases. Flame and fear and chance, then, can make a man a hero or a fool.” After President George W. Bush presented the surviving Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 and after George Lucas made the film “Red Tails” about the Airmen in 2012, their legacy has been strengthened.

Roger Romine was 24 years old when he perished.