EAST COAST CHAPTER
AIR ECHELON ORGANIZATIONS
Flying units, whether combat or training, were self-contained organizations. Each had its own headquarters, mess, supply, medical dispensary, photographers and chaplains. Each maintained its own vehicle, armament and aircraft repairmen of all specialized technical descriptions. These organizations existed entirely for the sole purpose of putting pilots and their airplanes into the air to attack and destroy assigned targets and to safely return to base to fly another day.
Initially, ground service and maintenance personnel comprised predominately enlisted ranks, whose specialty areas included administrative, intelligence, mess management, physical training, statistical, supply and field training. They also completed courses in photographic services, communications, armaments, engineering, weather, radio and many other courses organized by and on behalf of the Army Air Corps Technical Schools at its headquarters at Chanute Field, Illinois. They became the first Negro personnel to be permanently assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron. Subsequently, the 332nd Fighter Group was organized and similarly staffed, though on a vastly larger scale, in preparation for its deployment to the Mediterranean Theater, as was the organization of a technical staff for the 477th Bombardment group to achieve its training mission in the American Theater.