First Lieutenant Shelby F. Westbrook was born on January 15, 1922, in the small town of Marked Tree, Arkansas, and died on August 17, 2016.
He was a Tuskegee Airman active during World War II.
During March 1943, Shelby Westbrook enrolled in aviation cadet training at Tuskegee Army Air Field.
Shelby knew he didn’t want to be in the infantry, despite the fact he had never been in an airplane before.
Westbrook completed his pilot training (class 44-b) and was sent to Selfridge Air Field near Detroit, Michigan, on February 8, 1944.
The Second Lieutenant Westbrook trained in single-engine fighter planes, while he was there.
Shelby was attached to the 99th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group, which was one of the first all-Black units formed by the Army Air Corps.
While he was strafing mission over Southern France, Westbrook witnessed fellow pilot Richard Macon crash into a building near Montpellier.
At the time it happened so quickly, the U.S. had no record of it. More than fifty years later, First Lieutenant Westbrook was able to confirm this happened as he was doing research with French-language materials.
For services in Europe, Shelby Westbrook was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with five Clusters, the Presidential Unit Citation, the 15th Air Force Certificate of Valor, and five Battle Stars, as well as an air-to-air victory over a German Me-109 fighter on October 4, 1944.
He married Lulu Bell Leonard, in 1952.
Shelby Westbrook passed away at 94 years old.