Potential Douglas Hall name replacements: Captain Charles B. Hall

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Photo Courtesy of The Keep

Captain Charles B. Hall

Corryn Brock, Editor-in-Chief

Eastern’s Naming Committee is tasked with reviewing a list of individuals who Douglas Hall could be potentially renamed after.

The individuals being considered are former Illinois Governor Edward Coles, former student athlete and Tuskegee Airman Captain Charles B. Hall, former University President Louis V. Hencken, community members who assisted students with housing Ona and Kenneth Norton, Eastern’s first Black student Zella Powell and former life sciences professor and Director of Afro-American Studies William Ridgeway.

Charles B. Hall was born in 1920 and was raised in Brazil, Indiana.

After graduating from high school in 1938, Hall went on to attend Eastern Illinois State Teachers College on scholarship. Hall was a pre-med major.

Hall was a star on the football and track teams for two years before leaving Eastern to enlist in the Army Air Corps.

Hall went to the Tuskegee Institute to be trained for his service in World War II. He was one the first 43 Black Americans to participate in the training at the institute.

On July 2, 1943, Hall became the first Black American combat fighter to shoot down an enemy aircraft.

Hall was quoted in the “Times” explaining what led up to him shooting down a Nazi plane and what took place directly after.

“It was my eighth mission, but it was the first time I had seen the enemy close enough to shoot at. I saw two Focke-Wulf’s following the Mitchells just after the bombs were dropped. I headed for the space between the fighters and the bombers and managed to turn inside the Jerries…I fired a long burst and saw my tracers penetrate the second aircraft. He was turning to the left, but suddenly fell off and headed straight into the ground,” Hall said. “I followed him down and saw him crash. He raised a big cloud of dust.”

His military action earned Hall the Distinguished Flying Cross, making him the first Black American to receive the honor.

Hall went on to down three more enemy planes before the end of his service and flew 198 missions over Africa, Italy and parts of Europe. Towards the end of his military service, Hall spent a year on a war bond drive.

Hall then moved to Chicago to work as an insurance agent, later relocating to Oklahoma City to work at Tinker Air Force Base and the Federal Aviation Administration.

A complete list of individuals being reviewed can be found here.

 

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]