Robert Holts, Class of 1946

Posted on October 5th, 20196:45 pm


Robert Holts, Class of 1946

Holts helped pave the way for the integration of the U.S. armed services by serving with the famed Tuskeegee Airmen during World War II. As the product of an integrated high school, Holts was surprised to find when he enlisted in the Army in 1942 that white and black soldiers were segregated. While most black soldiers served in non-combat support roles, Holt was assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group and 447th Bombardment Group in Tuskeegee, Alabama, the first African-American fighting air squadrons. He passed the qualifying exam and was admitted into aviation training. As Holts later put it, he eventually “washed out” of the rigorous training program. But he would remain with the Tuskeegee Airmen in a support role, serving as a draftsman under legendary Tuskeegee commander Benjamin O. Davis. The valor and performance of the Tuskeegee airmen helped shoot down claims blacks were not fit for combat, within a decade leading to full integration of all U.S. armed services. After the war, Holts served as a postal worker in Detroit before retiring in Omaha.