Joseph Gomer

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Joseph Gomer

Joseph Phillip Gomer (born June 20, 1920 in Iowa Falls, Iowa) was one of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Gomer worked in his father's janitorial service from the age of 12. He graduated from Iowa Falls High School in 1938. His father died the same year. His friends and clients pitched in to help pay for Gomer's further education and he enrolled at Ellsworth Community College as a pre-engineering major. In 1940, just as he was graduating, the Civil Aeronautics Authority initiated a flight training program at the school. He trained with the group in a pasture outside of town and enlisted in the Army in July 1942 with an application to Aviation Cadet Training. Once approved, he was sent to the Tuskegee Army Airfield for further training.

Gomer trained on a P-40 Warhawk and joined the 301st Fighter Squadron which was activated for duty in Italy. As a P-39 Cobra pilot, he escorted naval convoys to Italy and patrolled the Mediterranean coast. He witnessed an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in March 1944. Later he was assigned to escort bombers in larger P-47 Thunderbolts and, even later, more powerful P-51 Mustangs. The unit was credited with 1,500 sorties, 111 downed enemy aircraft, and the sinking of a German destroyer. The 301st lost 78 men during its tour, but did not lose any of the bombers it escorted.

After the war, Gomer became a flight test maintenance officer at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Ohio. He met his wife Elizabeth while hospitalized with a fever in Columbus and married her on March 12, 1949. That same year the newly created United States Air Force was created as an integrated service. He was assigned to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia as Chief of Reconnaissance and learned to fly helicopters. He served with the 315th Air Division in Japan during the Korean War, inspecting C-119 and C-47 aircraft for technical problems. At the end of that war he was assigned to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. He eventually became a nuclear weapons technician stationed to the French River launch facility near Duluth, Minnesota

After leaving the Air Force in 1964, Gomer worked for the U. S. Forest Service as a personnel officer, retiring in 1985.