Marion Marvin Mosley, Jr. was born September 21, 1921 at the family home on North 6th Avenue by a midwife to Marion, Sr. and Theodora Nichols of Mobile, Al.Marion Mosely, Jr. lived at 2400 N. 6th Avenue, Pensacola. He was a 1941graduate of Booker T. Washington High School on “A” and West Strong St.Marion played 1st chair in the Band, under Mr. Raymond (Ray Shep) Sheppard.Marion was called (‘Pimp’) or “Snookie” by his beloved cousins and family for his fancy and classy dress!
After graduation, Marion attended Florida A. & M. College (FAMC). He was a contemporary of Lt. James Polkinghorne, Jr. and dated his sister, Lillian.Polkinghorne, Jr. was killed on the first mission in 1943 in Germany.
There were several -Tuskegee Airmen from Pensacola during World War II at this time. These were: Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James, Lt. James Polkinghorne, Jr., Marion M. Mosley, Jr. and later Walter H. Richardson, Arthur Williams and Scott Jones, Jr., son of Mrs. Corrine Jackson Jones, all of Pensacola. Chappie James, Lt. Polkinghorne, Marion Mosley, Jr., and Scott Jones served as fighter pilots in the Army Air Corp, later the U.S. Air Force. All of these fighter pilots were Booker T. Washington HS alumni.
Marion enlisted in the Army after his brief stay at Florida A. & M. He was stationedin Wichita Falls, Texas. Because of segregation, Marion was not allowed to play in this band because he was a Negro (Black). He was only allowed to attend rehearsals.
He remained at this base for 4 months. Finally, Marion was sent to a famous Air Base outside of Tuskegee, Alabama in April of 1944. This time, Marion was allowed to play in the all Black Band on base. While playing Reveille, Marion was approached by a familiar face, Lt. Daniel “Chappie” James from Pensacola. Chappie was his hometown, childhood friend. Chappie asked Marion “why was he playing in the band?” and why not join him and his fellow fighter pilots training on base.
Marion joined the Pilot Training School (PTS). Marion and Chappie “hung out together,” just as they did when they played “sandlot football” on the old unpaved Alcaniz Street. Alcaniz Street was a dirt road dating back to the late 1930s. Chappie’s mother’s home and school (Ms. Lillie James Day School for Colored students) were located on Alcaniz near Blount St. Marion’s training at Tuskegee’s Union Field lasted for 6 months.
Marion successfully passed this flight program and became an “official Tuskegee Airman” in the 99th Fighter Squadron and was later sent to Oviana, Italy to face the German Air Force. Marion and Chappie often flew home together, noted Marion.
They captured German soldiers of war, did all the KP duties such as plating vegetables at the Black Air base and more.
Marion was in Italy from 1944 -1947. Marion played trumpet in the 766th Army Air Corp Band which traveled the country from 1948 -1949. Marion returned to the U.S. In 1949 while joining the Air Force Reserves in 1950. Marion was Honorably Discharged on January 14, 1951 and he served for 8 years in the Reserves.
In 1949, President Harry Truman issued an “Executive Order,” to integrate the Armed Forces and thus establishing the U.S. Air Force and doing away with the Army Air Corp.
Marion attained the Rank of full Colonel in the U.S.A. F. Upon his return to Columbus, Ohio, he met and married Leatrice Wilson of Virginia Beach, Va. while she attended Wilbur Force College in Ohio. Marion started a cleaning business where he cleaned Mink, Swede, sweaters, coats, and suits. Additionally, he had a successful janitorial service.
Marion was married for 37 years. He and Leatrice (deceased) raised four (4) children: Natalie, Gloria Jones, Roger and Joan. He has several grand and great grands. Marion retired after running his successful businesses in Pensacola in 2005, and purchased a home on the corner of 12th Avenue and Texar Drive. In 2007, Marion Mosley, Jr. was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor for his service as a “Tuskegee Airman,” presented by President George W. Bush. Marion’s photo hangs with honor at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., noted his cousin, Marion Charles (Chuckie) Williams of Upper Marlboro, MD.
All of the local Tuskegee Airman are deceased now except Marion Mosley, Jr., who is 93. Scott Jones, Jr. perished in 1952 in a non-combat flight. Walter H. Richardson, 81, just passed April, 2014.
As history recorded it in the 2011 movie “Red Tails” (Squadron), the 99th Squadron faced blatant discrimination and racism. The Tuskegee Airmen flew the famous P-51C Red Tail planes. Prior planes flown were the P-40s and the B-29 Bombers. The fighter jets would accompany the Bombers on their bombing runs during the war. The Tuskegee Airmen changed attitudes, saved lives and were willing to perform above and beyond the call of duty for our Nation!
Marion was stationed in Italy for 2 years, and returned in 1949 to the U.S,
following WWII. He attained the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, retired. Marion was Honorably Discharged in 1951. He met a young lady in Columbus, Ohio from
Wilbur Force College. Her name was Leatrice Wilson from Virginia Beach, Va.
After his wife’s death, Marion returned home to Pensacola in 2005. In 2007, Marion was honored by President George W. Bush and Congressman Jeff Miller with the Congressional Gold Medal of Freedom for his service and valor as an “Original Tuskegee Airman,” from Pensacola natives. Marion joined other from Pensacola receiving their Gold Medal as Tuskegee Airman: Gen. Daniel Chappie James (dec.), Walter Richardson /Ft. Beach, Fl (dec.) , Arthur Williams (dec), and Scott Jones, Jr.(dec.)