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Lisa M. Bratton

Tuskegee Airman and prisoner of war, was born Luther Henry Smith Jr. in Des Moines, Iowa, the second child of Luther Henry Smith Sr., a black-eyed pea salesman, and Ida. His father's sales territory included the Midwest, and visiting Des Moines, Iowa, he found that since there were so few African Americans, the effects of segregation and discrimination were minimal and opportunities for economic progress were strong. Smith's mother was from Dubuque, Iowa. Her father had been a trader who later made his home in Des Moines. Smith's parents met in 1918.

Young Luther exhibited an interest in aviation as a child At the age of seven he drew a picture of an airplane and showing it to his second grade teacher announced that it was a picture of the airplane in which he planned to fly his family to Africa At the age of ...