Full Military Honors for Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Charles W. “A-Train” Dryden

ATLANTA – Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Dryden (USAF-Retired), who passed away on Tuesday, June 24, 2008, in Atlanta, GA, will be given full military honors at the interment which takes place at Arlington National Cemetery on September 24, 2008. The fortyfive minute ceremony takes place at 9:00 a.m. Guests attending the ceremony should arrive at the Arlington National Cemetery at 8:30 a.m. to receive directions to the site of the interment.

Charles Walter Dryden was born on September 16, 1920, in New York City to Jamaican parents, Charles Levy Tucker Dryden and Violet Buckley Dryden. In his book, A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman, Dryden recalls, “Air’pwane! Air’pwane!” is how this two-year-old, tearing paper into bits and throwing them into the air, told the world that he wanted to fly airplanes.” And after many a trial and tribulation, flying airplanes is what Chuck Dryden did. He lived out his dream. And then he lived to write about it. After his book was published, he realized a renaissance in his career and enjoyed the celebrity which his stellar career afforded him.

Following graduation from Peter Stuyvesant High School in New York City Dryden earned a BA in Political Science from Hofstra University and an MA in Public Law and Government from Columbia University. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Hofstra University.

In August 1941, Dryden was selected for Aviation Cadet training at the Tuskegee Army Flying School in Alabama. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the second class of black pilots to graduate in the history of the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was a member of the famed 99th Pursuit Squadron, later the 332 Fighter Group, which served in North Africa, Sicily and Italy during World War II. On June 9, 1943, then Lieutenant Charles Dryden, in his P-40 nicknamed “ATrain,” led a flight of six pilots engaging enemy fighter aircraft in aerial combat over Pantelleria, Sicily. It was the first time in aviation history that black American pilots of the U.S. Army Air Corps engaged aircraft in combat.

Dryden’s 21-year military career also included combat missions in Korea and duty assignments in Japan, Germany and ten different bases in the United States. He also served as a Professor of Air Science at Howard University and retired in 1962 as a Command pilot with 4,000 hours flying time.

He has received many accolades and honors including being inducted into Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame and designated an “Outstanding Georgia Citizen” by the Secretary of State Max Cleland. President Bush conferred the Congressional Gold Medal on Lt. Col. Dryden and all Tuskegee Airmen at a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in March, 2007. He gave continuous service to his community as a member of the board of directors of the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame, the Atlanta Metro Lions Club, Quality Living Services (a Senior Citizens organization) and the Atlanta Chapter-Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. (ACTAI), which he helped found in 1978. On August 19th, 2008 Lt. Col. Dryden was the posthumous recipient of the Veterans of Foreign Wars 2008 Americanism Award awarded to an honored veteran for a lifetime of achievement, service and patriotism to our nation.

His autobiography has been published by the University of Alabama Press in 1997 [A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman].

Lt. Col. Dryden has three sons by a former marriage – Charles Walter Dryden, Jr. of Maui, Hawaii; Keith Cameron Dryden of Orlando; and Eric B. Dryden of Atlanta. He helped his wife, Marymal Dryden, to guide and support the lives of her four children – George Bingham, Anthony Bingham, Kenneth Bingham and Cornelia-Rose White, all of Atlanta. They have six grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Pauline Miles from Denver, CO. and a host of relatives and friends.

The family of Lt. Col. Dryden has launched the ATrain Legacy Foundation to further Dryden’s dedication toward the development and support of aviation career programs and aviation education for young people. This non-profit organization [501(C)(3)] and will accept contributions to provide grants and scholarships for young men and women entering the field of aviation and aerospace.

For further information, contact Eric Dryden at eric.dryden@atrainlegacy.or g or 770-726-7953.

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