Tuskegee Airman John McLeeseThursday, June 14, 2012 By Tyshaun George
Rhoda McLeese-Smith, daughter of Tuskegee Airman John McLeese, came to Richard Wright Public Charter School for Journalism and Media Arts to speak about the life of her dad when he was a Tuskegee Airman. "My father McLeese was a Tuskegee Airman. I learned about it when I was just a little girl," Ms. McLeese-Smith recalled. “While my father was in North Africa and Europe, he kept a journal that explained mostly everything he did as a Tuskegee airplane repairman.” War is not a good place to be. Ms. McLeese-Smith shared that her dad lost a lot of good friends throughout the war, but everyone just had to keep on moving. She explained that in the war, her father was a aircraft engineer repairing the damaged planes that just kept flying in one after another. In his journal, Tuskegee Airman McLeese talked about his battle experience. He described the bombs from the planes as he “heard eggs dropping from the skies.” He and his fellow airmen called the German enemies “Jerrys.” Sgt. John McLeese wrote in his journal about his travel experiences. "He believed that my mother would never get to travel to faraway places. That is why he wrote a journal that was so descriptive. He also talked about how the food and water weren’t so good and that he loved the food that he ate from Italy.” Mr. McLeese soon had gotten sick from eating the contaminated food and water that they were receiving. The army did not treat blacks as well as whites. They even treated German enemy soldiers better than blacks. He was soon released from duty due to food poisoning. Later after he had been out of the War for a while, he got sick again from the same illness and Ms. McLeese-Smith remembers, “my mother and I visited my dad every day.” Sergeant John McLeese eventually got better and lived a long life. He died in 1992. “The only thing I have left to remember my dad’s voice is the journal that he kept in the war. This journal will stay in my family for years to come.” Thanks to Ms. Rhoda McLeese-Smith for coming down to this newly founded school and sharing what went down in history and will never be forgotten.