The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York named its newest cadet barracks after Air Force General Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr, whom graduated from West Point in 1936 with a commission as a second lieutenant of infantry. He later transferred to the Army Air Corps where he served as a Tuskegee Airman.
Davis was the only black cadet at the academy in 1932.
Despite being silenced during his four years at West Point, where no cadets, faculty or staff members befriended or spoke to him except on an official basis, he persevered to become the fourth African-American to graduate from West Point, ranking 35th in his class of 276.
Davis continually faced segregation and discrimination throughout his career. He became the first officer to graduate from the Army Air Corps’ all-black flight training program, the Tuskegee Airmen. He was instrumental in developing the integration plan for the U.S. Air Force.
Davis retired a three-star general in 1970. He was awarded a fourth star in 1998 by President Bill Clinton he died in 2002.
USMA paid homage to Davis’ legacy with the dedication of the newest, most innovative and eco-friendly barracks. U.S. Military Academy superintendent, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., along with West Point cadets, staff and faculty, and members of Davis’ family, cut the ribbon to the barracks that stands tall above the rest.
“General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. exemplifies the West Point values of Duty, Honor and Country, and he exemplifies what it means to be a leader of character,” Caslen remarked. “We dedicate this new cadet barracks that bears his name, etched in stone, as a perpetual reminder of his incredible legacy and example that will inspire all future leaders of character that pass through West Point’s gates.”
The Davis Barracks was dedicated August 18. It is six stories tall, houses 650 cadets and has a granite exterior to match the Cadet Chapel looming on a hillside above.
“He was determined to endure any ordeal; his perserverance showed how the spirit is not broken easily, choosing what was right,” declared Cadet Netteange Monaus. “He did not let his circumstances poison him; rather he turned the insults into fuel, bringing about change, and is forever carved into eternity.”