Tuskegee Airmen Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter

Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter Tuskegee Airmen Inc. Scholarship Fund

“Tuskegee Airmen” refers to a distinguished group men and women who trained and served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and during the years immediately following the war. The Tuskegee Airmen included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air.

The mission of the Archer Ragsdale Arizona Chapter (ARAC) is to Preserve, Honor, and Promote the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen accomplishments in Education, Military Aviation, and Self-Determination through Youth Motivational Programs.

Each year the Archer Ragsdale Arizona Chapter awards two $1500 scholarships to deserving graduating high school students who are college bound. Preferential consideration is given to those students who have attended the chapter’s Aerospace Career Education (ACE) Academy. Two Ashby-Herring scholarships will be awarded and are named in honor founding ARAC members who are Original Tuskegee Airmen.


Lt. Colonel Robert Ashby

Mr. Robert Ashby was born July 17, 1926 in Yemassee, South Carolina. As a student in high school, Mr. Ashby began to seek information on pilot training after hearing and reading of the experiences of black pilots in the Army Air Corps (now the United States Air Force). At age 17, he enlisted in the military as a candidate for the Aviation Cadet program. In August, 1944, after graduating from Ferris High School in Jersey City, New Jersey, he was called into active duty. In December, 1944, he was sent to Tuskegee, Alabama to begin cadet training.
Throughout his aviation career, Mr. Ashby has flown many different kinds of aircraft including the PT-17, AT-6, B-25, B-26, B-45, and B-66. Mr. Ashby retired honorably from the U.S. Air Force in July, 1965 having reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Mr. Ashby started his commercial aviation career in 1965 with United Airlines as one of their flight operations instructors. He taught in the classroom and the airplane simulator for the B-727 aircraft. In 1973, Mr. Ashby was employed by Frontier Airlines as a pilot, flying as a second officer, first officer, and then as captain. He was the first black pilot hired by Frontier Airlines. He flew various aircraft with Frontier, including the Twin Otter, Convair 580, B-737, and MD-80. Robert Ashby leaves an outstanding record of precision, quality, courtesy and safety with Frontier Airlines with over 20,000 total flying hours. He retired on July 17, 1986 while flying as Captain of the B-737.

Lt. Colonel Asa Herring

Mr. Herring is a native of Dunn, North Carolina. In 1943, he graduated from Stephens-Lee High School at age 16, and enrolled in Tuskegee Institute three months later.
When Mr. Herring wanted to take a flying course, he mother did not want him to fly. Instead he enrolled in an aircraft maintenance program. He could not enlist in the Army Air Corps (now the United States Air Force) until he was 18, however he had already passed the Army Air Corps written exam at age 17.
World war II had ended before he finished his training, so he never had the opportunity to fly combat missions. However, during his 22 years of military service, Mr. Herring served in England, Korea, Germany, and Vietnam. He has flown and trained pilots in more than 10 different types of aircraft including the F-104G. During the Vietnam War, he flew 350 combat missions, and his decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Bronze Star.
Mr. Herring was appointed the first Black squadron commander at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where he trained fighter pilots in the advanced jet fighter gunnery program. He retired honorably from the Air Force in 1970 and joined western Electric Company, which was the manufacturing division of AT&T. He served in several management positions until he retired in 1989.