Did You Know? This Tuskegee airman was born, raised in Spokane

By Black Lens staff report

Black Lens staff

Jack D. Holsclaw spent World War II flying as a Tuskegee airman. He also happened to be born and raised in Spokane.

Holsclaw, born in in 1918, graduated from North Central High School in 1935, thereafter attending Whitworth College before transferring to Washington State College. In his senior year, he transferred again, this time to Western States College in Portland. Holsclaw graduated from college in 1942 with a chiropractic degree.

Rather than go on to be a chiropractor in October 1942, Holsclaw enlisted in the U.S. Army. He had received a civilian pilot license while studying in Oregon, and applied to the pilot’s program. He was accepted to the Tuskegee Institute, where he was trained to fly combat aircraft. Holsclaw completed his training in July 1943 and was sent to Italy as part of the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group.

In Europe, Holsclaw flew 68 missions protecting bombers from German fighter planes. On July 18, 1944, the 100th Fighter Squadron, with Holsclaw as its flight leader, engaged 300 German fighters to protect a group of B-17 bombers. While leading the 16-man squadron during the battle, he shot down two enemy aircraft. For his actions that day, Holsclaw was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, which honors single acts of heroism or extraordinary achievement in aerial flight.

After the war, Holsclaw continued to serve in the military, training pilots before retiring in 1965 with the final rank of lieutenant colonel. Today, his childhood home in Spokane honors his service with a historic marker placed by the Jonas Babcock Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution reminding pedestrians passing by of the Inland Northwest’s own Tuskegee airman. The house is a private residence.

Source: Devrick Barnett, “Spokane’s Red Tail,” Spokane Historical